Irish aim to shrink their environmental footprintThe Rosemount Irish are about to get even greener. Thanks to a $12,770 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency students and teachers at Rosemount High School are stepping up efforts to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. The group’s goal is to cut energy use and other environmental impacts to reduce that footprint 11 percent by June of 2011.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
The Rosemount Irish are about to get even greener.
Thanks to a $12,770 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency students and teachers at Rosemount High School are stepping up efforts to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. The group’s goal is to cut energy use and other environmental impacts to reduce that footprint 11 percent by June of 2011.
It’s an ambitious goal. The school district’s membership in Schools for Energy Efficiency has already led to a 3.2 percent drop in use of electricity and an 8.5 percent drop in use of natural gas since 2007. But science teacher Veda Kanitz, who is leading the new effort, believes there is still room to improve.
“We spent $332,000 for energy costs at this school last year. That’s $161 per student,” Kanitz said. “One third of that is wasted energy. That means lights left on, monitors left on. Doors that weren’t closed.”
Kanitz said some areas of the school get receive plenty of natural light and don’t need as much artificial light as they currently get.
The new grant will allow the school to make improvements in several areas. Part of the money will go to weather stripping and other physical improvements at the building. Another chunk will pay for handheld monitors students will use to measure light use and temperatures throughout the school and look for areas where they can make things more efficient. The grant will pay for motion-activated sensors that can turn lights off when there is nobody in a room, and for power strips so teachers can cut power altogether to monitors and other electronic equipment when it is not in use.
“I’m most excited just about adding the new technology, because Rosemount is an older school,” said Erica Jensen, an RHS senior who attends classes at the district’s School of Environmental Studies. “With stuff like light monitors and the power cords we’re able to compete on energy use.”
The effort to go greener will reach schoolwide. The RHS Green Team, a student group that focuses on environmental efforts at the school, plans to hang posters designed by the school’s art honor society to educate student about the school’s carbon footprint, and ninth-grade earth science students will gather information on energy use around the school to find areas in need of insulation. Students will use energy meters in some of their math classes and will be able to check them out to use them at home.
The Green Team has already installed signs outside the school to create zones where idling car engines are discouraged. Now students plan to discourage automobile use altogether. The team will encourage their classmates to ditch their cars May 21 and walk, bike or take the bus to school. Jensen hopes to reduce the number of cars in the RHS parking lot by 10 percent.
In addition to energy-use reductions RHS plans to reduce paper use by 10 percent. That effort includes training several teachers on the use of Moodle, a service that allows students to hand in homework online.
So far, reaction to the school’s efforts has been positive. Jensen said about 75 teachers have signed up to receive power strips and 20 or 30 have signed up for training on Moodle.
“I’m definitely excited,” Jensen said. “I’m glad that this is happening in my senior year.”