Staying Green

For those of you who are doubters — green is here to stay!  Not only is the movement gaining steam in schools across the country, it’s gaining steam in American homes as well. Recently Consumer Reports conducted a survey on green behavior at home. When asked whether they’ve incorporated green into their household, 45 percent of Americans replied “very much” or “somewhat.”  Nine out of 10 respondents took at least one action to lessen demand on their home heating and cooling systems, for example using fans instead of A/C. Sixty-six percent recycle plastic — but many are still putting recyclable items in the trash. There is still a lot to do on the home front, but green is catching on.

On the school scene, a number of initiatives are underway. One good example is the two-year program through the Alliance to Save Energy in the Knox County, Tenn. schools. Through the program, a local project leader trained teams of teachers, custodial staff, administrators and students at eight local schools on how to implement the energy-efficiency program. In partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Knoxville Utilities Board, the alliance provided teams with a tool kit to perform energy audits — including light meters, infrared temperature guns, watt meters and lesson plans for teachers to use. Students have learned lessons from how to check for heat loss through leaks around windows, to calculating energy usage in the classroom. After learning more about phantom loads, it is now standard practice to shut down all computers and unplug most appliances during school breaks. "If you don't unplug a cell phone charger or computer charger, it is still drawing electricity. Those little bitty bits add up to a lot in schools."  During the first quarter of the Green Schools' program, launched in August 2009, TVA reports that measures implemented at the eight schools resulted in a combined savings of $44,601 or 452,916 kilowatt-hours.

In this special “Green” issue, you will read about other ways to make your schools green like energy conservation plans, sustainable maintenance techniques and sustainable construction.

But like the students in Knox County are demonstrating, simple changes can make a difference too!