Magazine article District Administration

Going Green, Making Sense

Magazine article District Administration

Going Green, Making Sense

Article excerpt

Anyone who has ever had a 9-year-old understands the concept of the unanswerable question. While I've fielded my share from my son Ethan, there is one question he keeps lobbing at me that I can't even make up a good response to. "How come we keep cutting down the rainforest," he asks from the back seat of the car, when we're on a bike ride or sitting at the breakfast table.

I've tried arguing with the concept of "we" and pinning the blame on commercial logging and greedy governments, but that still doesn't satisfy me, never mind him. The best answer I've come up with so far is to try to make a difference ourselves. And that ties in directly with this month's cover story about energy conservation, "The Grass is Greener on This Side," page 42. We've all heard the jokes about how education is nearly immune to change, how it runs behind the business world in adapting new technologies, how many classrooms are still set up the same way they were when we were in the fourth grade.

There may or may not be good excuses for some of these deficiencies, but there is one area that school districts can take the lead in: saving energy. I say this because it makes sense for three reasons: saving energy wherever possible is the responsible thing to do; it can save school districts up to $1.5 billion a year; and it can help schools educate students about energy, conservation and how the two intersect.

School districts spend $6 billion annually on energy and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that one of every four dollars are wasted. Ten percent can be saved simply by turning off unneeded lights, shutting down computers and leaving personal space heaters at home. The other 15 percent of the estimated savings would come from replacing outdated equipment.

If you don't believe that number, neither does Merrilee Harrigan, the director of education at the Alliance to Save Energy. …

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