The West Point Public Schools in Virginia, have made a number of environmental upgrades recently, hoping their efforts will earn them a coveted green certification from the Virginia School Board Association. The Association has started a Green Public Schools Challenge. The program encourages the state’s school divisions to implement different sustainability strategies, all with the goal of reducing both energy and water consumption.
“It’s a real honor to get this award,” said West Point Superintendent Laura Abel, speaking at a recent school board meeting.
So what steps has her school district taken to reduce consumption? Among them are the following:
• Install light sensors that turn lights on and off in restrooms based on if they are being used
• Put other electronic mechanicals on timers, so that they are turned off when the schools are closed
• Had an energy audit conducted
• Based on the findings of the energy audit, had the heating and cooling systems of all the school repaired or adjusted so that they use less energy
• Removed personal refrigerators from schools as well as personal lamps in classrooms
• Installed waterless urinals in the boy's restrooms.
Interestingly, the waterless urinals can save water, energy, and money. You see, part of the school districts water bill, in fact, most everyone’s water bill, includes a charge to deliver water to the school as well as remove it. This means the water district must have pumps and these pumps are powered by electricity.
So, if less water is being used as a result of installing waterless urinals, water agencies do not need as much energy to deliver and remove water. This also lowers their costs and, the icing on the cake, often results in reduced water bills for the schools as well.
And talk about money, the energy audit mentioned earlier cost the school district a reasonably large sum, $32,000. But as a result of the review, the district has already saved $44,700 in energy costs, and this is likely to be repeated in future years.
This is a perfect example of how going green and becoming more sustainable pays off first by reducing consumption and second, in the pocketbook.