HARRISBURG – The Rendell administration is helping school districts and schools curb energy consumption and reduce operating costs, important steps that will conserve natural resources and save taxpayers money.
The multi-agency initiative kicked off on Friday with a “virtual conference” via webcast of school business managers, facilities directors and other members of the commonwealth’s education community.
“Being ‘green’ is the right thing to do for the environment and also makes great economic sense,” acting Education Secretary Thomas Gluck said before the Pathways to Green Schools webcast, jointly sponsored by the state departments of Education, Environmental Protection and General Services, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
“We want to make sure every school district has the information and tools available to make informed choices and start on the pathway toward a green future. Whether a school district is considering a renovation or construction project, reviewing operations and maintenance practices, planting a school garden or updating curriculum, there’s an opportunity to make our schools more cost-efficient, environmentally-friendly and healthier places of learning,” Gluck added.
The administration launched a new Web site, www.pathwaystogreenschools.org, designed to provide school districts with helpful information in one location. The coordinated effort will include the latest information on state programs and grants available, and offer an opportunity to share best practices from districts around the state — where schools and communities are making investments that help conserve natural resources and reduce energy costs. The site also offers information on nutrition education programs and school gardens.
In addition, the Department of Education announced administrative changes to its school-construction policies that will promote green and sustainable investments–including renewable energy– as part of reimbursable projects. The changes will help school districts include green and sustainable principles into design and construction plans, as well as operations and maintenance.
“Districts that take advantage of the opportunities created by the Pathways to Green Schools can become a keystone of sustainability for local communities,” said Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger.
DEP, through the Governor’s Green Government Council, has collaborated closely with the departments of Education and General Services to build a pathway school officials need to create and operate sustainable learning environments that conserve water, energy and resources. The stepping stones along the pathway include best practices for creating healthy indoor learning environments, cost-effective technologies and operations while reducing environmental impacts.
During the webcast, the Department of General Services (DGS) presented opportunities that can save school districts money by making buildings more energy efficient through the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, or GESA. The cost to upgrade buildings is ultimately “budget neutral,” since the improvements reduce utility and operational costs. DGS also discussed the opportunity to purchase clean, renewable energy, and also outlined how to lock-in savings by controlling electric consumption.