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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home K-12 Schools 12 Steps toward Sustainability Energy Purchasing

    One alternative to purchasing green energy is to generate it on-site. Grasso Technical High School does just that using this wind turbine.
Energy Purchasing
K-12 schools control large amounts of spending power and can thus influence the local economy a great deal. K-12 schools that commit to purchasing Green Energy and on-site renewable energy are using their purchasing power to further industries which promote sustainable development.



    One option for Connecticut schools who wish to reduce their carbon footprint is by purchasing green energy from wind farms in New York.
    Image courtesy epa.gov
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Make Energy Efficiency Improvements First
    The most economically sound way to use green power is to first ensure that a school has achieved a high level of energy efficiency. Green power is often more expensive than conventional power which makes wasting energy by using inefficient technologies more costly. Why run an incandescent light off a photovoltaic cell when it is possible to run a compact fluorescent light that uses one third the energy or less? Reducing energy needs through high-efficiency bulbs will lead to reductions of both greenhouse gases produced and operating costs. Significant reductions of energy consumption can be achieved by the use of both high- and low-tech strategies. High-tech solutions might involve changing out equipment and replacing with more high efficiency models. Low tech strategies can be just as effective, and include either actions or behaviors. Ensure that a building’s envelope is properly insulated in order to reduce the energy required for cooling and heating. Make sure that all windows and doors are properly weatherized. Even small cracks in weather stripping can lead to substantially higher energy consumption. The simplest low-tech strategy is to encourage people to turn off lights and computers. There is a myriad of both high- and low-tech ways to reduce energy use. Further details can be found on the Energy Conservation section of this website.
  • Improve K-12 Schools' Load Profile
    Throughout a given day, a school experiences fluctuations in its energy demand. For example, a school may peak for short periods. Electric utilities charge by the amount needed to cover that peak. Schools can reduce their peak load through energy management techniques and subsequently lower energy costs. Changing scheduled maintenance times is one way to effectively deal with this problem. Where possible, reschedule energy-using tasks to periods of low energy demand. This raises valleys but lowers peaks in usage, thus lowering demand charges.
    Energy Use Graph
  • Use Low-Emission Fuels
    A great way to reduce greenhouse gas production is to use low-emission fuels in boilers, heating plants, and vehicles. Not all fossil fuels are created equal; consider replacing oil burning domestic space heating and hot water systems with natural gas. Renewable fuels are also an option. Biofuel is derived from crops grown on farms and not pulled from deposits in the earth. Any carbon dioxide produced in the burning of these fuels will be sequestered with each growing season. Consider integrating renewable sources of heat such as geothermal or solar heating to augment conventional space or water heating systems. In addition, purchase vehicles for the school that use renewable fuels. Fuel cells are also an option for many vehicles such as shuttles and buses. More information can be found on the Transportation section of this website.
  • Green Purchasing
    Purchasing green power from the local utility can be an excellent way to reduce emissions. Many states now have a green power option. Some schools purchase 100% of their power from renewable sources, but even purchasing a fraction of green power as part of an overall energy profile can lead to significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Where available and economically feasible, attempt to purchase as much power from Class I sources as possible (Solar, Wind, methane capture, tidal power, ocean thermal power, some hydroelectric sources, and some biomass). Class I Renewables produce little or no greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Use Renewables
    One of the strongest actions a school can take to move towards sustainability is installing a renewable generation capacity. The choice of systems that can be integrated effectively into a school’s energy strategy depends on the local climate, terrain, and federal and state incentives. Renewables produce little or no greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately pay for themselves in the long run which makes them a perfect choice for a school setting.
    Though the payback period for investing in solar photovoltaics is longer than other renewable strategies, it requires no fuel source and generates power as long as the sun is shining. Grid-tied photovoltaics help reduce the likelihood of brown outs by offsetting the electrical demand caused by high cooling loads.
    Wind power also has potential to produce clean cheap energy for select locations. Schools in climates with reliable wind resources should consider this technology. Use meteorological testing to find out wind generation data available at schools location. While there may seem to be little wind at ground level, wind resources might be plentiful one or two hundred feet up. The scale of wind power generators ranges from a few hundred watts to a few megawatts.
    Geothermal systems have been installed to heat and cool many schools. Solar thermal collectors are a good option to supply or supplement hot water needs.
  • Combined Heat And Power
    K-12 schools can also use conventional means of energy production in more efficient ways. Electrical generation produces a great deal of waste heat that cannot be used to make electricity. An onsite combined heat and power generator can utilize this waste heat to supplement the school’s domestic hot water and space heating. This system can be used both for centralized electricity and heating generation. Combined heat and power utilizes the same fuel for two jobs and is thus more efficient than separate electric and heating generation. The result of using this economic technology is substantial long-term savings.
  • Consider Carbon Sequestering
    In order to offset greenhouse gases produced by the school through fuel use and electricity consumption, consider carbon sequestration. Plant trees and maintain green spaces. One of the most efficient ways to sequester carbon is to use building materials that are rapidly renewable. This can be integrated into building structure. Additionally there are many programs which allow individuals or organizations to purchase portions of rain forest to protect them from agricultural encroachment. Reforest the Tropics Inc. has begun a program of rainforest restoration through the use of the fast-growing Klinki tree. Reforest the Tropics estimates that with every acre of restored forest, 16 tons of carbon dioxide are sequestered annually.
  • E.O.Smith High School, Storrs
    • Added three solar panels with the intent to double that
    • Purchases 20% of its electricity from renewable energy sources
Want to learn more? Visit the Keep Connecticut Cool website!
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