Our project consisted of several parts including staff education, transportation, renewable energy studies, school lighting, recycling, and composting. We named this project Go G.R.E.E.N an acronym standing for (Greater Redmond Environmental Education Network). Staff education involves a teacher pledging to save one ton of CO2 by changing some of their daily routines. This includes: turning off lights, using both sides of printer paper, turning each room down 4 degrees, coordinating carpools, using reusable coffee mugs or water bottles, and turning off computer monitors and other electronics at night. The transportations section increased bus rider-ship through a Ride the Bus campaign in which we led a competition with incentives to ride the bus. For the renewable energy studies we tried to determine whether it would be more cost/energy effective to add to our current photovoltaic array or to purchase a wind turbine. In the end we used funds to add to the photovoltaic array and applied for a grant for a wind turbine. The lighting project involved replacing xenon HID lights with LED lights and Fluorescents. We turned off and on master light switches, according to the level of natural light the school received through windows. For the recycling section students gathered recycling from teachers’ rooms once a week. For the composting section, we educated students on what type of material could and could not be composted through a school announcement video and supervised a composting bin every day at lunch by going between tables to ask for student’s compost and recycling.
The overall results have been quite astounding. Student-run recycling has helped remove 9,715 pounds of solid waste from the garbage dump last school year, saving over 30,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. The composting program also saved an additional 12.6 tons of carbon dioxide last year. The Ride the Bus campaign, which saved 625 pounds of CO2 per week, informed teachers of the Redmond alternative transportation program, has saved and over 13,000 pounds of CO2. Overall, The Go G.r.e.e.n. program has stopped over 250,000 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere from Redmond High School.
A year ago students and a few staff members decided that they wanted to make a difference in the environmental impact of schools. They discovered that the local high school often has the largest Carbon footprint of many towns and cities. They wanted to make a program that was successful enough that it would be easily exported to other schools. This motivated these students to action and they immediately began setting up the project. This led to the out-branching of several different parts of the project which were staff education, transportation, renewable energy studies, school lighting, recycling, and composting.
First a list was made by the students detailing different ways that the carbon footprint of the school could be lessened. From recycling to setting up a photovoltaic array, nothing was left off this list. Students then looked at the ways that they could reduce in the most effective ways. The students then went into setting up a plan to reduce the overall impact of the school on the environment. For each section of the project, the students got into groups of twos to carry out each section. Mike Town was the ambassador for the students to help give the administration of the school confidence that the students were capable of setting up and maintaining such a large program. Some students would write up the energy audit sheet that we used to interview teachers and staff members, while other students would explain to the janitors what we were doing with composting at lunch so we would interfere with one another. We bought composting carts to easily transport recycled and composted materials and bought large composting bins for weekly recycling. Also, the wind speed was measured at several different areas around the school to get enough data to properly compare our photovoltaic capabilities to our wind energy capabilities. Each student involved in the staff energy audits got training from Mr. Town on how to properly interview teachers.
Mr. Town provided oversight to the project by making suggestions and approving project ideas. The entire Redmond High staff of 80+ teachers and administrators all played a part in reducing their individual carbon impacts. Students met with each teacher and administrator twice during the year to see how they were doing with reducing their individual carbon footprints. This program has also been exported to 10 other schools in the area to improve their carbon footprints.
Although a teacher (Mr. Town) was supervising the project it was the students who did the work. The students would get the acceptance from staff on a particular idea and then work with leadership class or staff to see it through. An example is the composting project in which all students were encouraged to compost at lunch while the students leading the project gather compost from each table. Also, all students at who chose to participate were involved in the Ride the Bus campaign. It was encouraging to see the student body support the composting program by helping students who didn’t understand to learn what can or cannot be composted.
The Go Green Challenge has been passed down from last years senior class to this years senior class and will continue to be passed down to the next class. Each year the new senior class picks up where the other class left off and improving and expanding on their original work. This years project includes all of last years components with the improvement of expanding the energy audits from classrooms to local businesses.
The community will be involved through this years energy audits of local Fire stations. A competition will be set up to see which station can save the most pounds of CO2. The audits and competition will be recognized in local newspapers and will be given recognition locally. Members of the community will be able to see the progress made in the program and be motivated to either get involved or be interested in learning more about what they can do.