Getting River’s Edge Academy (REA) Energy Star certified was a long, but rewarding process.
Cutting down on energy consumption was already a goal, and one of the reasons for applying for a GreenCorps member. As an environmentally focused school, REA needs to be a model in cutting down on energy usage and emissions. Saving money by using less is an added bonus, and that money can be used for different areas of the school. The entire staff was willing to help with these goals and the students were always eager to learn about new things I was doing and different technology that I was using.
The first step was establishing a baseline for the school's energy use, uploading data into B3 Benchmarking and transferring that information to the Energy Star Portfolio Manager. The B3 Benchmarking folks were great, helping me understand the process.
REA’s energy star score was already above 75, but we needed to work on behavioral changes to commit to long-term energy conservation, including staff and student commitment to cutting down on their energy and water consumption. The physical changes included turning down the water heater and installing motion sensor lights in the bathrooms. Then, a licensed professional verified our data and monitored air quality in each room to check the carbon dioxide levels. Every room was sufficient except the math room which was above 1300 ppm; I worked with maintenance to resolve the issue. By implementing physical and behavioral changes, River’s Edge Academy earned an energy star score of 83 and given Energy Star certification in spring 2018.
Environmental education is a prominent value at River’s Edge Academy. Energy Star certification shows the school’s commitment to being an environmental leader and teaching important values to future generations. Being certified has helped us win the Green Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education. REA will continue working to achieve goals in sustainability, including buying wind energy from Xcel through their WindSource program.
“I learned a lot about how buildings work, and how they consume energy. I can use my knowledge of B3 Benchmarking and Energy Star Portfolio Manager in future jobs and maybe help other companies become certified. Also through this process I have gained relationships with people in different organizations and these connections are valuable to my future working in this area.”
Minnesota GreenCorps is a program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that places members with non-profit and government organizations, and focuses on a range of environmental goals.