For Immediate Release
Ann Arbor, MI – Michigan’s K-12 schools are taking steps to reduce their energy consumption in order to save their districts and respective communities money. However, funding is often a significant barrier to moving additional conservation projects forward. This is a key finding from a survey of K-12 school operators conducted earlier this year.
The Ecology Center, in partnership with the CS Mott Foundation and the Michigan School Business Officials (MSBO), launched a survey earlier this year in order quantify the opportunities that exist in the state of Michigan to increase the energy efficiency of our K-12 school facilities. The survey represents feedback from nearly 60 districts which operate over 500 instructional and non-instructional facilities across Michigan.
“Over 90 percent of the districts surveyed identified energy efficiency as important in their district,” said Jason Bing, Healthy Buildings Director at the Ecology Center. “This is a great indicator; now we need implementation to match the enthusiasm and interest.”
Through the Michigan Renewable Schools Program, the Ecology Center is providing a network of schools interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy with technical energy assistance and financing guidance in order to accelerate adoption of energy-efficient strategies. “We’re trying to meet schools where they are and offer resources and tools to help support the great work schools are already doing to promote conservation in their districts,” said Bing.
Scott Little, Associate Executive Director of the MSBO, believes K-12 schools have valuable lessons in energy management to share with one another; both successes and failures that can be important for increasing adoption of efficiency measures. “It’s something we have been doing at the MSBO for years; creating opportunities for networking and collaboration among our members.”
Specifically, Bing sees a lot of opportunity in high-efficiency lighting upgrades and investments in heating and cooling plants in academic facilities. Survey respondents indicated that 30-50% of schools could use investments in those areas. “Lighting and mechanical upgrades can not only save schools money, but they can reduce operating costs and improve classroom environments for students and teachers. It’s been documented that better classrooms environments can lead to better student performance and less sick days.”
In order to meet our statewide economic, environmental and societal goals, Bing believes that state and local leaders - both public and private - need to make school-based investments a priority; particularly because of the significant associated benefits with making energy efficiency improvements in K-12 schools. “Our building operators understand the value and need, we just have to provide them with the resources to be successful in saving precious public funds and creating 21st-century educational environments.”
Ecology Center is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization established in 1970 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Ecology Center develops innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet in four primary areas: Environmental Health, Sustainable Food, Energy & Climate Change, and Zero Waste. This work is accomplished through educating consumers to help keep their families healthy and safe, pushing corporations to use clean energy, make safe products, and provide healthy food, providing people with innovative services that promote healthy people and a healthy planet and working with policymakers to establish laws that protect communities and the environment. For more information visit www.ecocenter.org and follow @Ecology_Center
Published on September 28, 2016