There is a vast opportunity for schools in regard to improving their energy efficiency. Not only do these efforts pay off in terms of costs, but focusing on sustainability can also teach students to be aware of their own environmental footprint. As more educators learn the positive impact they can have on young people, decision-makers are beginning to turn to more eco-friendly systems. Investing in these technologies can have major advantages in terms of the school’s budget as well as the students’ overall comfort. One such solution that many schools have been implementing is geothermal heating. By switching to one of these systems, any school can become more energy efficient, and thus allocate their funds toward more useful initiatives that benefit the student body.
A wise investment
One school that has decided to switch its heating system is that of Waterford, Conn. The Day reported that at a recent meeting, the Board of Education announced that they would be raising their budget 1.44 percent to $45,162,491 for the 2014-2015 school year. So why the increase? The new budget entails higher salaries for staff as well as new technological advancements. One of the reasons that the district has decided to invest in these technologies is because it has already seen considerable savings in energy costs. Robert Sirpenski, the district’s director of finance, pointed out that the use of geothermal heating and cooling at some of the town’s schools have played a major role in these rewards.
That’s not the only location reaping the benefits of geothermal energy. According to The Frederick News-Post, the next Urbana elementary school in Frederick, Md., will include a number of eco-friendly upgrades. The architects and school officials involved in the project recently revealed their site plan and floor plan proposals, which displayed self-contained rooms, a media center that also acts as a community space and an oversized gymnasium. Moreover, the classrooms at this school will use a geothermal heating system and have been designed for maximum sunlight through the windows. The news outlet noted that these features are all part of an effort to meet the state’s requirements for LEED Silver environmental certification.
An enhanced education
Some schools take their clean energy strategies to a whole new level. Inhabitat cited Cascades Academy in Bend, Ore., as one example. This nonprofit eco-school caters to kids between preschool and grade 12, and boasts a low student to teacher ratio, giving pupils a lot of individual attention. The overall aim of the school is to foster an environment that emphasizes sustainability, teaching students to respect their environment while enjoying nature as well. The buildings feature solar-passive design, solar power, heat-recovery ventilation and, last but certainly not least, a geothermal heating and cooling system with radiant floors. The result? Classrooms that stay cool in the warmer months and cozy in the frigid months. Not only that, but students are given a deeper glimpse of the system so that they can understand how it works. Part of the underground piping for the geothermal field is exposed, giving them a look at the inner workings of the radiant tubing. It’s no surprise, then, that the academy has already won the 2013 Portland Chapter AIA Citation Award and Oregon Chapter IIDA, Best of Education Award.