Monday, July 21, 2008

How Green Is Your School?

Good article today in the Times about an Eastside high school trying to go green. Here's some info from the article:

"Buy a hot dog at an Interlake High School Saints game this fall and save the Earth.


Well, at least save some electricity.

That's because Interlake's new concession stand will be powered by solar energy. Interlake is one of 12 schools, including Redmond High and Thomas Jefferson High in Auburn, to receive grants from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for solar panels. The utility plans to give out at least 10 more grants to schools in the next few years.

"There seems to be a lot of demand and excitement in the schools," said PSE spokesman Andy Wappler. "[Solar] is like the 'It Girl' of energy."


"Like City Light's solar panels, the main goal of PSE's program is education, not production. Most panels installed through the school grants are 1- to 2-kilowatt systems. Even Interlake's 4-kilowatt system would not produce a significant amount of the school's overall electricity. When construction finishes in September, Bellevue district officials hope the panels will completely power the concession stand.

The PSE and City Light grants come with a kiosk where students can monitor the panel's production. All the data from the kiosks are uploaded to the Web for anyone to see."

And for those who say, "Here in Washington?"

"Chuck Collins, a consultant contracted by PSE to be resource-conservation manager for Lake Washington district, designed the Redmond High solar program and is looking for other ways to reduce the district's energy bill.

"[There are] a bunch of fallacies of 'solar doesn't work in Washington,' " said Collins. "We're knocking those down, one by one."

Roosevelt is trying to recycle more but you run into a lot of problems in who will manage the recycling. The custodians seem overwhelmed by the work they already have without moving bags of recycling to the curb. Kids don't always empty out their cans and bottles (it's not necessary but is cleaner and lighter if they do). There is a limit on how much copying can be done. The PTSA is trying a gradual move to less paper in the First Day Packets and telling parents that most forms, in the future, will be on-line or available in the office. (If you haven't had a student in high school yet, the volume of paper that comes home in the First Day packets is unbelievable.)

What is happening (or what do you think should happen) at your school?


Dorothy Neville said...

I have 2 KW system on my roof and it produces almost half the electricity we use each year. (We do conserve, turn off power strips, hang laundry as often as possible, have efficient appliances, etc. We use about half of the US average KwHs for homes with gas heat and water.)

4 KW ought to do way more than power a concession stand. It would produce nearly all of my household's annual power needs (using the grid as a "battery"). Sure, it's a fraction of the power a school uses, but as an educational display, knowing that a house could operate on that much power would be uh, educational. The math isn't that hard to do, one would think the folks involved would have a better idea of that a 4 KW system could do.

How much do the panels on Washington Middle School produce?

SolvayGirl said...

I just happen to be writing a piece for ParentMap on Green Schools and I too would love to hear about what schools are doing. I'm having a difficult time getting info since few schools have more than a skeleton staff in place right now.
Post on this site or email me at SolvayGirl1972@aol.com.

Maureen said...

TOPS K-8 started composting all of our food waste last year (part of the Green Schools program). The 5th graders are in charge of it (it's part of their science curriculum). They enjoy bossing the middle schoolers around at lunch time! The parent who initiated it has made a real commitment to extend composting/reducing/recycling to all school events as well. One parent donated hundreds of metal forks to use (and reuse) for class parties, potlucks etc. Our custodian is very commited to the program as well.

Next year parents will have the option of receiving the biweekly newsletter on line. That could save over 40,000 sheets of paper per year. The back to school packets used to go to every child, now they only go home with the youngest kid in the family, that saves about 25% of materials. (We can't go 100% online--too many families don't have access.)

Roy Smith said...

If SPS was serious about making the school system greener, the first thing that they would do would be go to a strictly neighborhood school based system. The reduction in fuel consumption for buses (and parents driving kids to school) would create an environmental benefit that would be an order of magnitude greater than any other changes that I have heard proposed. I'm not saying that this is a desirable idea, just pointing out that the biggest single environmental impact all of us (including school kids) have is our commuting patterns and associated fuel use.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One interesting thing about that issue, Roy, is that I have read articles about many school district throughout the country who are cutting back on transportation because of the gas prices. And yet, SPS, with one of the most extensive transportation systems, we've not heard word one. Where is the money going to come from to pay for all this gas? They've already dipped into the rainy day fund to cover the new budget. What if gas prices (gulp) go up?

SolvayGirl said...

To Maureen
Thanks...just the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

Jet City mom said...

well this isn't where my kids went to school- but it is where I went to school ( and why I didn't buy my parents house- I don't know)

The Ben Franklin Elementary School serves 450 students in kindergarten through grade six. The students are distributed within small learning communities, each including a cluster of four naturally ventilated and daylit classrooms around a multipurpose activity area. Stacked within two-story wings that extend toward the woods, these communities are integrally linked with views and access to nature beyond.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2006. It was submitted by Mahlum Architects, in Seattle, Washington. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

SolvayGirl said...

More great stuff...
Thanks Classof75!

Marni C. said...

FYI, Nathan Hale will be incorporating solar panels into its remodel design!

Steven Johnson said...

Considering how many schools there are in the world and how many children study there, even the slightest step towards recycling will seem very significant. Schools should turn green and from this age children will be more attentive to the world around them. Firms like big-ben could lecture them.