Twinsburg High Goes Green One Step at a Time
Students and staff at Twinsburg High School are working hard to conserve energy and reduce their carbon footprint
Going green can be as easy as remembering to turn off lights or computer monitors when you leave the room. But Twinsburg High School is taking it a few steps further.
Assistant Superintendent Mike Lenzo said the high school is just finishing up House Bill 264 upgrades and is eventually looking to start green programs in each of the district's schools. HB 264, also known as the Energy Conservation Program, gives districts the ability to borrow funds without having to pass a ballot issue for the authority to borrow, according to the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission. This limited borrowing authority has given districts the ability to save millions in utility bills and operating costs at no additional taxpayer expense.
"We've done several upgrades of mechanical systems, controls for our boilers and air conditioning and we've replaced lighting systems," Lenzo said. "We've reduced energy and saved money."
Comparing bills from October through December 2010 to 2009 numbers, the district has saved an estimated 52 percent in gas bills and 32 percent in electric, or $48,000 in each utility, Lenzo said. These aren't exact estimates as the use of each utility fluctuates with the weather, but it's close.
"As a follow-up, we've put together a Green Team, which is made up of several teachers and about four or five students," Lenzo said. "We're in the planning stages now, but the idea is to roll out information and choose goals for the schools to help reduce energy usage."
Twinsburg High teacher Scott Amstutz is a member of the Green Team and also heads the high school's Environmental Club. A lot of energy saving initiatives or ideas start in the EC and are slowly filtering to the Green Team for implementation, Amstutz said.
"The role of the Green Team is to get the word out of what changes we are making and why," Amstutz said of the energy upgrades. "A majority of the students didn't know what really happened besides noticing that the lighting was brighter. We're trying to create some habits for the students outside of school."
Both officials said the students are excited to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint at school and at home.
"We encourage the students to take the information home with them," Lenzo said. "We're having the kids help us direct our attention to what project they want to do and the idea is to get the kids involved and we can have them take this movement home and then of course impact their family."
The Green Team is also working on an educational component to inform students, staff and community members on how they can help, and also debunk some myths.
"It's a tiered process," Amstutz said. "The information has to be put out in waves so that information is spread out over periods of time. Small steps. We're working to give information on anything from recycling to energy consumption to composting in the cafeteria and really trying to make the students aware that they have a choice."
"A teacher may think 'Well, I'm going out of my classroom for just a few minutes to check my mailbox, I really shouldn't turn my lights out because it takes more energy to fire them back up again than it does to just leave them on,'" Lenzo said. "We want to show energy studies that say that's not true. There's literature that states turning them off does reduce energy cost."
Lenzo and Amstutz look forward to the future of the project and said the students are excited to come up with new energy-savings programs, such as a day where the school goes as paperless as possible.
"They're very bright, capable young people," Lenzo said. "Our hope is that we'll get the high school students running this initiative and do different projects in the school. Once we get things up and running here, then we'll move on to those other school buildings as well."
Amstutz added, "I just read a statistic that says over 50 percent of jobs in the next five years will have an environmental component attached to it. Even if it's how to reuse stuff or keep your office green, this isn't going away."