In 2003, an impromptu conversation between Dr Nalini Nadkarni of Evergreen State College, and Dan Pacholke, the Superintendent of state prison, Cedar Creek Corrections, resulted in the birth of Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) in Washington.
SPP goes into county and state jails, implements eco-friendly initiatives, and trains incarcerated men and women in the field of environmental sciences.
The project is a bi-partisan initiative: the Department of Corrections wants to run a more cost-effective prison system, and the Evergreen wants governments to cut down on waste, and use alternative forms of energy. And training prisoners to maintain a sustainable facility meets both needs and gives inmates desirable skills for the future.
So far at Cedar Creek Corrections they have reduced annual water use by 100 million gallons, and decreased heat and energy consumption by 13%, transportation fuel by 35%, and total carbon emissions by an estimated 41% from 2009 to 2012.
The SPP model is now sharing their platform with other prisons, acting as an information service and encouraging other prisons to trial the model themselves.