PSBA Bulletin Special Conference Issue - Page 23

PSBA partners with Gabel Associates to offer Energy
Solutions , a member benefit strategically designed to help schools reduce energy costs and environmental impact , and to improve energy infrastructure performance
– typically at no out-of-pocket expense to the district .
Because of their expertise in environmentally friendly energy savings , we asked experts at Gabel about what it means to “ go green ,” how to get started , and how some changes can be beneficial for school budgets and the environment .
Q : What are some common misconceptions school leaders may have about “ going green ”?
A : School leaders may think “ going green ” is more expensive than traditional energy use , but in reality “ going green ” can save money by decreasing energy use and costs . These green initiatives can also be incorporated into school curriculum to provide educational benefits on top of their environmental benefits .
Q : What are some benefits ( financial and other ) to examining energy usage from an environmental point of view ?
A : Benefits of examining energy use from an environmental point of view include improved indoor air quality for students , improved local air quality through more efficient equipment that does not emit harmful fumes , and a strong contribution to the fight against climate change through reduced carbon emissions . As we say at Gabel Associates : “ Think Global , Act Local .”
Q : What are some examples of strategies and solutions for schools that are looking to reduce carbon footprint ?
A : Schools can reduce their carbon footprint by seeing where they can increase energy efficiency and sustainability . This includes installing LED lightbulbs ; switching to more efficient cooling , heating and ventilation systems ; decreasing energy usage by turning off lights when not in use or upgrading to smart light switches ; upgrading windows to better contain hot / cool air ; and installing onsite renewable energy projects , such as solar . School leaders should make sure there is no missed maintenance on their windows , lights and HVAC systems and ensure all equipment is on optimal settings .
Q : What are some first steps school leaders can take who are interested in “ going green ” from a facilities point of view ?
A : To begin “ going green ,” school leaders should start by tracking their facilities energy use , utility bills and demand data . With this information Gabel Associates will conduct detailed reviews and assessments of facilities and operations to benchmark and evaluate environmental , economic and social performance . Once a baseline is established , we can identify strategic opportunities for cost savings AND for “ going green .” If you are not sure how to begin this process , we are happy to walk you through it !
Q : What are some ways schools can involve student learning and student voice throughout the process ?
A : Schools can involve students by showcasing sustainability through interactive and innovative classroom lessons . For example , the data and technology that goes into designing a solar project or measuring greenhouse gas reductions provides a great opportunity to teach students about math or science ; students could conduct “ energy audits ” of their classrooms and identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency ; or older students could even go to the site of solar construction for first-hand learning !
Special Conference Issue 2021 PSBA Bulletin 21