APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The Energy Efficient Schools Initiative tackles climate change, addresses deficient STEM education, and builds human capital through an integrated and robust approach. Students and teachers will comprehend and apply science, technology, engineering, and math as they conduct energy audits and design models for energy efficiency at their schools. These calculations will be used in school retrofits so that students can see the real-world application of their work. This commitment will also lower cost and technology barriers for schools to implement energy efficiencies, lower school energy consumption and carbon emissions- ultimately allowing schools to redirect critical school funds away from cumbersome energy bills to critical academic programs-, all while developing students' desire to make a difference through service.
National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Serious Materials and Jayni Chase will work with partners to create and support a coalition of manufacturers, installers, unions, and others, to launch the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative in 500 schools by year end 2012. The initial funding strategy is seeking Congressional appropriations for schools and districts in New York's 2nd congressional district (Suffolk County and part of Nassau County, on Long Island), with a second pilot funding strategy for 250 schools in New York City School District or potentially large multi-districts serving 250 schools in MI, IN or IL. The focus will be on technologies that can be installed quickly and save energy immediately, including high R-value windows, digital sensors, classroom monitoring and feedback and wireless networked thermostats. The project will include an experiential learning course on energy usage in buildings with teacher training, curriculum development, evaluation and promotion
NWF provides overall project development and management. NWF will identify, recruit and organize school community participants, , assist with green jobs training in cooperation with local community colleges and in conjunction with the construction and post construction phases of the project; support, monitor and evaluate project outcomes; and facilitate ongoing environmental education and sustainability projects such as water conservation and sustainable transportation through its Eco-Schools USA program.
NWF will also develop and offer the curriculum that will include modeling software that the students will use on their own schools. NWF's team of environmental educators would identify and work with a core team of self-selected teachers from diverse schools across the project area to conduct a series of collaborative workshops, to align the curriculum and the training program to be age and developmentally appropriate for students and in compliance with national and local teaching standards for STEM.
Serious Materials (recently picked to replace all the windows in the Empire State Building) specializes in ultra high-energy efficient windows. The company is well respected in the energy space and makes many advanced products and provides services for building energy efficiency, and has established relationships with other suppliers who can provide lighting controls and thermostats. They will help manage the relationships with manufacturers, installers, unions, to coordinate the construction process.
Specifically, an independent LLC would be set up in the chosen state, managed by a board consisting of state representatives, various suppliers who provide lighting controls, high R value windows, monitoring services, submetering and advanced thermostats at a minimum. This LLC will be responsible for all construction. These key suppliers would visit locations to make initial calculations and reviews of the schools chosen. The goal here is to identify issues before the process begins.
Jayni Chase brings decades of leadership in environmental education and sustainable school programs. Jayni will provide project leadership; recruit partners and funders for all phases of implementation; assist with promotion and replication of the project.
The following provides an overview of the process for the initial school districts selected in NY. This process would be replicated in subsequent districts and states without the initial curriculum and energy modeling strategy development.
Once district approval and initial funding is available for the pre-construction phase, the next step is to engage professional energy modelers to evaluate representative schools and predict energy savings. Exact savings can be forecast based on existing energy costs. Construction cost savings accrue when multiple schools become part of the program. The goal is to include all NY school districts in the 2nd district, 250 schools in New York City School District, or potentially large multi-districts serving 250 schools in MI, IN or IL., which reduces cost and increases positive returns to the school system.
Teacher training and support of student, teacher and community involvement in the actual energy modeling process would be implemented across all of the classrooms in the district. Green jobs training such as energy audit training and training on windows installation would be provided for various vendors, Modeling would take place in the schools to calculate energy costs and savings, and professionals from the LLC would follow up on student calculations.
While there are many ways to save energy, most are either intrusive (requiring significant construction and disruption) or will not provide an immediate return on investment. The combination of windows, lighting controls, and thermostats provide significant returns, can be done easily and quickly, and can result in savings well above most other energy options. The actual construction managed by the LLC should take one day per classroom for minimal disruption to school activities.
Evaluations will be conducted to measure student and teacher performance. Energy savings and reduced carbon emissions will be monitored by students and school administrators. Evaluation and savings accumulated after the bond is paid would be invested in ongoing environmental education and community service projects.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The goal is to launch 500 on-the-ground projects by Fall 2012. A tentative timeline is outlined below:
Teacher training materials and workshops - Sept 2010-Sept 2011
Website, curriculum development and computer modeling creation and maintenance - Sept 2010-Sept 2012
Student project monitoring and evaluation - Sept 2010-Sept 2012
School Construction Prep - Sept 2011 to Sept 2012
Evaluation & outcomes - Sept 2011 to Dec 2012
This commitment addresses three problems: 1) climate change and carbon-based energy consumption, 2) declining science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in American schools, and 3) declining human capital and locus of control - an individual's desire to make a difference and feel that their actions matter.
Inefficient buildings comprise 50 % of the US total carbon footprint (Architecture 2030). Conservatively, there are 98,916 school buildings in the US. (This does not include 300,000 inefficient portable buildings). Schools nationwide spend nearly $10 billion per year on energy alone, generating 65 million tons of CO2. (U. S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2008)
At the same time, American children have been falling behind their peers in other countries when it comes to STEM education. For example, the US ranks 21st out of 30 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in scientific literacy. One quarter of U.S. fifteen-year-olds do not reach the baseline level of science achievement. This is the level at which students begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to use science and technology in life situations. (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008)
Furthermore, bettering education is a national priority that needs to be tackled with attention paid to developing the economy as a whole. The Obama Administration identifies the crux of this issue, 'our nation's economic competitiveness and the path to the American Dream depend on providing every child with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy that is predicated on knowledge and innovation.' (www.whitehouse.gov). Intrinsic to preparing our youth and adults to face modern challenges is the belief and willingness in one's self to take action to improve their own lives and their community. Many studies indicate a decline in social or human capital and civic engagement. Recent studies also provide mounting evidence that students engaged in meaningful, regular service activities and projects with tangible results woven into the school curriculum improve civic knowledge, enhance citizen efficacy, increase social responsibility and self-esteem, teach skills of cooperation and leadership and may even reduce racism. (See for example, Putnam. 2000 )
Many people around the world are working hard to find solutions to climate change. New options are presented daily. There is no single solution, but rather a combination of people and institutions working together to implement a range of strategies. However, attempting to fix this problem without educating and equipping the nation's youth with the necessary skills, as well as the belief they can make a difference, will not insure a better economy and healthier planet for all. This project is more than transforming buildings and reforming education, it has the potential to transform people and way we live together as a community.