Eco-Friendly Schools: What You Can Do to Help

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Eco-Friendly School Practices

The educational system is one of the largest organizations in any state and thus produces one of the largest carbon footprints around. Between the transportation system, communications, paperwork, and energy use, schools consume a considerable amount of nonrenewable resources on a daily basis. In order to be able to reduce the impact that a school has on the environment, it is necessary to make schools more eco-friendly through the use of green technology, alternative fuels, and waste reduction principles. By following a few simple steps, schools can not only take a step in the right direction regarding their carbon footprint, but they can drastically reduce cost and waste.

A few simple ways to make a school more eco-friendly are:

1. Reduce Paper towel waste- Utilize blow dryers in the bathrooms and near all sinks rather than using disposable paper towels. If paper towels are required, at least use recycled material paper towels rather than non-recycled material.

2. Instate a compost- Have the students separate their food waste from the paper waste in the cafeteria and recycle the paper while composting the food. This step alone will significantly save on waste disposal and reduce the carbon footprint of the school

3.Perform an energy audit- Hire an independent contractor to come in and perform an audit on the school facilities in order to determine the efficiency of the current HVAC systems and to recommend new strategies to increase the efficiency.

4. Increase paper recycling in the classroom- Rather than throw all of the paper from homework assignments and other classroom work into the garbage, have the students and teachers recycle their paper. This works for cardboard and plastics as well.

5. Switch the buses to biodiesel- Most sources of school transportation are now diesel powered, so simply switch the buses to biodiesel. Biodiesel can be used to power current diesel engines and is significantly cheaper as it is made from oil and grease from fast food restaurants.

6. Reduce water waste- Install low flow toilets and handwash stations instead of the more traditional high flow types. These low flow fixtures can cut water usage in half or more.

7. Install instant hot water heaters- Instead of utilizing a boiler system, the schools should switch over to instant hot water heaters that heat the water directly at the fixture location. This helps cut down on utility bills and avoids wasted energy due to constant reheating of stored water.

By utilizing a few simple procedures listed above, a school can become drastically more efficient and eco-friendly. A final suggestion would be to utilize the roof of the school buildings to grow fruits and vegetables that could later be served in the cafeteria. This would not only provide a small source of revenue for the school system, but would further reduce operating costs for school programs.