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Friday, December 12, 2008

Osceola schools install solar hot water system

From an article in the Osceola School District newsletter:

Over the past year, the school district of Osceola has begun to take an inventory of how many ways it’s becoming a “green friendly” environment. Prompted by a state movement for schools to gain certification as “Green and Healthy,” as well as a community interest in becoming more sustainable, the district began to formally address the initiative district-wide. All buildings have a goal of becoming certified as “Green and Healthy” by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Schools have collected and submitted much data. Many statistics that students and staff tracked were used in earning the titles, from the amount of food waste produced to the temperature of the buildings over time. Buildings also submitted curriculum documentation of environmental education. Finally, each site completed an action and implementation plan for continuing its initiatives. These plans have become a vehicle for communicating with students and staff at each building as to their progress and next steps.

Director of Building and Grounds, Bob Schmidt, has been a solid resource for each building. “When we sat down and looked at the criteria, we realized how much work we had already done as a district to become more efficient and environmentally esponsible. It was positive to see the efforts we had made previously make this transition fairly easy. We still have steps we can take, but we’ve begun to cut our costs, energy usage, and effect on the environment already.”

One of the most noticeable additions to the district is that of 32 flat panel solar energy collectors installed on top of the Osceola Middle School. “We researched solar options for months, traveling to other educational institutions to find out pros and cons of different systems,” stated Mr. Schmidt. “Last spring, we made a presentation to the school board about the different system options as well as grant funding available for the project. The school board has been extremely supportive and proactive in this area.” In the end, the district received grant monies from Focus on Energy in the amount of $46,960.94 to use for the project.

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