Senator Raymond Cleary introduced a resolution to encourage South Carolina schools to take advantage of the monetarty incentives that local utilities are providing for energy efficiency. Read about it further at:
Our friends at the United States Green Building Council have released their new report on the State of Our Schools. The report that the US needs to spend over $542 billion over the next decade to repair and upgrade our existing schools.
You can find more on their report at http://centerforgreenschools.org/stateofschools
The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded funding to the SC Energy Office (SCEO) to fund several high impact educational or demonstration projects in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels. State agencies, local governments, state funded colleges, universities and technical colleges, public schools (k-12), utilities and non-profits are all eligible for the funding. SCEO plans to award between $3,000-$5,000 for no more than six projects this year. All applications are due by close of business on March 22, 2013. If interested, please refer to the link below for more information and to obtain the application.
Great things are happening at St Paul Elementary in Clarendon School District 1! In 2010, the district utilized a great deal of stimulus money and rebates from Progress Energy to fund a new state of the art Elementary school. Energy Manager, Greg Holliday made sure that the district spent this money wisely by making the building “Green”. This includes double-paned windows throughout the school, extensive use of daylight harvesting in main areas as well as all classrooms, and sensors that can detect how much natural light is pouring into the classroom. When bright outside, these sensors dim the interior lights, lowering energy consumption. Greg has also made use of scheduling opportunities, setting the school to shut down on weekends and holidays. The building also shuts down by 5 on weekdays but teachers have the ability to override the system in their individual classrooms for an additional 2 hours if they have a large workload that day. The appliances throughout the school are all energy star and none of the lunch food is fried-promoting energy efficiency and healthy eating habits!
One aspect St Paul has that is rarely seen is that the HVAC systems all have a “GreenWheel”, a self-contained HVAC system designed to provide heating, cooling, and outside fresh air for school classrooms.
St Paul has not left out the small projects either. All of the floor mats are made from recycled bottles. They also only use green cleaning products, reducing the need for harsh chemicals that often cause health problems.
Because of their amazing attention to energy efficiency and sustainability, we give St Paul Elementary School an A+!
Denmark-Olar Elementary, which is located in the so-called “Corridor of Shame,” was chosen for the project designed as a first step in making the facility more energy efficient.
The Conservation Voters of South Carolina began the Green Schools initiative to focus on rural school districts along the I-95 corridor which are often overlooked.
At Denmark-Olar Elementary, volunteers conducted a blower door and infrared test and air sealed the spaces that the tests identified using caulk, weather-stripping and spray foam. They also were taken on a tour of the entire school, and they said what they saw amazed them. The volunteers expressed how passionate they felt about improving the schools and how committed they were to coming back to participate in more projects.
“Seeing this many people show up on a hot Saturday to donate their time and energy in order to create a better learning environment for children that they don’t even know warms my heart,” said Jenni Asman, program manager of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina Green Schools Initiative.
“Initially, the idea of weatherizing a school was a scary thought because of all the time it would require of our experts here today. However, having volunteers such as the faculty, staff and students of the university allows us not only to reduce cost; it also allows us, as a group, to make a greater impact in a shorter amount of time.”
Asman added, “There are benefits for the volunteers as well that go beyond feeling good about giving back. Some of the students here today wish to have a career in education and want to get a first-hand look at the state of schools in South Carolina. “
As a part of the Green Schools Initiative, Asman will meet with the Bamberg School District Two Board of Trustees in two weeks to ask them to accept a loan from the state energy office called the ConserFund, which would allow the district to waive up-front costs of more intensive projects such as a new HVAC system, new windows, lighting upgrades in the halls and exterior and more.
Asman said she hopes when combining this loan, which requires the applicant to pay 2 percent interest annually with generous SCE&G rebates, that the district will be able to pay off the loan with its savings.
USC student Mary Rawls seals a crack to prevent unwanted airflow.
Madison Curlin and Davontae Singleton were eager to get to work Saturday morning.
The two were part of a group of University of South Carolina students and volunteers working to weatherize two portable classrooms on the Denmark-Olar Elementary School campus, in Bamberg County.
While Curlin worked to seal air leaks, Singleton donned coveralls to check the classroom’s crawlspace. Earlier, the group had taken some readings to see how airtight the 24-by-60-foot portable classroom was.
Part of a relatively new program called the Green Schools Initiative being headed by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, the program is designed to help schools become more energy efficient – something that Jenni Asman, program manager for the initiative, says will ultimately help schools recoup money.
“The cheapest thing to do is to weatherize,” Asman said.
And while weatherizing produces a smaller savings than if schools were to replace windows or HVAC systems – which the initiative is also looking into –– weatherizing costs very little, Asman said.
Volunteer contractors from Retrotite in Irmo, and others from Summerville who were also on the site Saturday estimate the savings could be as much as 30 percent.
That’s an economical move that could help schools like Denmark-Olar, featured in the documentary “Corridor of Shame.”
“We’re excited about this opportunity for several reasons,” said Thelma Sojourner, the district’s superintendent.
Not only does the school expect to see a “financial gain,” Sojourner said, but the weatherization process will bring in healthier, cleaner air. That should make the portable classrooms, which tend to be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, more comfortable for students.
“So you’re also taking about the environment,” she said. “And anything that’s healthier and more comfortable to be in can impact how children learn.”
In a few weeks, the group will check back with the school to compare the readings again and see how their efforts made a difference. Asman’s group will then present its findings to the Bamberg School District 2 school board.
Asman said the group hopes to return and remedy other inefficiencies, such as outdated fluorescent lights and the 1950s-era school’s original windows.
Touring the inside of the building is something that made an impression on both Curlin and Singleton, who were fulfilling community service hours. Both hope to go into education when they graduate from USC.
“Until I started taking education classes ... I really didn’t realize the problems existed,” Curlin said.
Singleton, who is in his second year at USC, said he was used to the “brand-new, state-of-the-art school” in Charleston he graduated from.
“And then you come here, and it’s like it doesn’t really make any sense,” he said.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.
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