Over the past few years, more and more organizations have worked towards becoming more eco-friendly. You probably have a few energy efficient appliances in your kitchen, or make a point of turning off the lights when you don’t need them. A tenant in our 401 Hillsborough building has taken an extra-large stride to be more “green” by applying to become a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. Staff, students and parent volunteers have been working together to earn this distinctive award.
To qualify for the Green Ribbon School award, schools must reduce their utility and water usage, as well as make efforts to minimize their waste. Students have also been collecting information about how everyone gets to school in order to measure and learn about emissions and how to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
Since it opened in 2010, Exploris Middle school dropped their electric consumption a whopping 22% compared to its 2012 usage, with similar drops in natural gas and water consumption. In addition, the students have been measuring the school’s waste in cubic yards each month to make sure they are recycling everything they can and minimize what goes in the dumpster. Students are further involved in terracycling, which is a process of sorting out certain items that would not normally be recyclable and giving them to a company that makes post-consumer products from them. Students also had a chance to tour the AIA Headquarters on Peace Street to learn their utility usage and how their energy efficient systems differ from other systems.
The Green Ribbon School title includes other qualifications too, such as promoting student wellness and their connection to nature and reducing their exposure environmental toxins. Students had an opportunity to go gleaning for sweet potatoes, which they donated to a local food bank. Gleaning is when individuals go behind harvesting equipment to find what the equipment has left behind and pick it by hand. In an effort to reduce exposure to toxins, the school sought out detailed information about how much and which pesticides are used around their building.
In the pictures below you can see the students touring the utilities of a green building and gleaning for sweet potatoes at a local farm. In the coming months, Exploris will be completing their application and finding out if they were selected for this award. They have made excellent efforts and we wish them the best of luck!