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Green Schools See High Return on Investment
posted by: Alix | December 05, 2011, 10:06 PM   

Last May, a report issued by the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council found that "green schools" are not only better for students, teachers, and the environment, but are also benefiting the bottom line. At a time when districts everywhere are facing major budget shortfalls, a school system in Mississippi is putting the theory to the test.

In Mississippi, Oxford area officials say the district has saved over $23,000 in energy costs in the past year while participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority Green School Initiative, a program designed to save on costly utility bills in schools.

Oxford School District Interim Superintendent Brian Harvey called the program beneficial on multiple levels. From helping schools save money on energy costs, to protecting the environment, and allowing students to participate in the process, the whole community stands to benefit. "And they can build a model so other schools in the TVA coverage area can replicate it," Harvey stressed.

The two-year pilot program began last year and involved five schools in the Oxford district and three schools in the Lafayette County School District, a more rural setting.

Alisa Fye, who works with the TVA program in Mississippi, said each school saved differently and found various ways to save energy across the board. While Oxford and Lafayette County were the only systems to participate in the pilot program due to their close proximity to the University of Mississippi, a TVA Green Campus partner, new districts are on deck to begin the venture in the coming year.

Following the success of the pilot program, the TVA Green Schools program is being expanded to 60 additional schools in the entire region.

In Oxford's Bramlett Elementary School alone, the school saved nearly $10,000 from its yearly utility bills by turning off lights in classrooms and offices and turning off computers at the end of the day. Schools across the participating districts plan to apply these easy cost-saving methods and many more, including adopting specific energy policies for each individual school.

Clearly when schools are savings thousands just by efficient use of utilities, stated policies on energy efficiency and green school initiatives could become school staples in the years to come.

Do you think your school or district could benefit from a green schools program?
Comment below.

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