Solar panels and carbon footprints may seem like space-age eco terms but it's everyday practice for private schools in Rye. The Resurrection School and the School of the Holy Child have taken going green to a new level, making it not just a trend, but also a part of the educational process.
At the Resurrection School, Pastor Patrick Boyle initially saw the potential for green technology. Two years ago, he approached the school's principal, Howard Nielsen, with the idea of placing solar panels on the roof of the middle school. Ironically, many months later, parent Jared Haines came to principal Nielsen with the same idea, without ever speaking to Pastor Boyle about his suggestion. An employee of Mercury Solar Systems, Haines was able to provide the means to make the school more eco-friendly.
According to Nielsen, the school applied for a grant, with the help of Mercury Solar Systems, to cover the entire cost of the $123,000 project. The installation took about two to three weeks that were "well worth the sacrifice," Nielsen said. "They did an estimate and we will be saving about 31 percent on costs."
Resurrection also has involved and educated students about its green initiatives.
"We had an assembly for the kids to talk about what was going on with Mercury Solar Systems," Nielsen said. "They asked some really great questions." Nielsen also said that environmental responsibility has become part of the science education curriculum.
Parents also have gotten involved. Late this year, the parents at Resurrection formed an Environmental Committee that will be in full swing for the next school year. Nielsen said they are initiating programs about recycling, wellness and will be making an effort to get expert speakers to come to the school. "They have made strides this year," Nielsen said, "and will continue to."
At the School of the Holy Child, administrators have taken steps to determine the school's environmental impact. With the help of Energy Reduction Solutions, Inc., Holy Child calculated their carbon footprint by measuring greenhouse gas emissions from their electrical, heating, transportation and water usage. The number was then translated into gallons of gasoline per student, so it could be better understood.
"We found that we were right around average in terms of consumption," said Frank Lutz, Director of Technology and Plant Management at Holy Child. "Compared with state schools we operate completely differently because there are houses on the campus and it's 365 days a year."
Lutz also said Holy Child has already made efforts to be more environmentally conscious and will continue to do so.
"We have high efficiency compact fluorescent lights and we are in the process of replacing oil burners and air conditioners." Lutz said there has already been a decrease in electricity costs.
"Today with everything going on with energy and pollution, it's inevitable that every entity will go down this route," Lutz said. "At some point we may be responsible for every ounce of carbon. We like to be aware of where we are and stay ahead of the curve."