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Greendale schools charged up by energy challenge

Effort rewards conservation and instills sustainability

April 15, 2014

Greendale — The Greendale School District is conserving energy as part of its sustainability initiative that includes a special "challenge."

The district's Administration and Sustainability Committee, in partnership with Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10, is engaging staff and students to participate in the Kilowatt Challenge, an energy conservation campaign, over a 12-month period.

The district's goal is a 5 percent reduction in energy bills for all buildings, saving the district approximately $20,000.

The Kilowatt Challenge, which began on May 1, 2013, will end on April 30, and the district appears to be on schedule, said Erin Green, director of Business Services.

"We agreed that if the schools save the 5 percent (in energy costs), the district will give the savings back to them," Green said. "The schools will be able to determine how that money is to be used."

The district has monitored energy use by paying attention to each school's utility bills, she added.

Learning how to save

The effort involved learning programs for Greendale teachers and students alike.

Teachers participated in a professional development course that focused on school building energy efficiency. Energy conservation methods include turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use. Teachers also open the blinds during the day to save on heat and close them at night to keep it in.

Greendale students participated by studying energy use through the special curriculum and carried out energy actions plans to reduce energy.

The Kilowatt Challenge isn't the district's first campaign to reduce energy costs. Over the past several years, the district was able to permanently reduce approximately 20 percent from its utility bills through multiple energy-saving efforts, including facility upgrades and alternative energy sources.

"We strive to operate and educate our students in the most sustainable way possible and have been working hard to do so for more than a decade," Green said. "In addition, sustainability concepts are continually being integrated into the curriculum and we are expanding opportunities with outdoor classrooms."

Noteworthy accomplishments

The district recently earned "Sugar Maple" certification from Green & Healthy Schools — a collaborative program between the state's Department of Public Instruction, Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education — after completing extensive data collection and reporting in nine focus areas, including energy, water recycling and waste management.

Last year, the woods at Canterbury Elementary School, Greendale Middle School and Greendale High School were registered as school forests in the Wisconsin Community Forest Program, which allows for the expansion of outdoor classrooms and more opportunities within the curriculum. As a district with school forests, the district will be eligible to receive free forest management assistance from the DNR and free seedling from the state nursery program.

"A visionary business manager and motivated staff sustainability committee has helped Greendale to successfully reach its first sustainability goals," said Kitty Goyette, communications director, in a press release. "… The district continues to make plans to meet the needs of its diverse population of students and continuously enhance curriculum with a focus on growth and achievement. A grant from the Greendale Education Foundation helps to provide financial support for the efforts of the sustainability committee."

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