West Chester Student Conservation Corps Receives EPA Climate Showcase Grant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced $7.8 million in grants for projects to reduce greenhouse gases, including a grant to the West Chester Area School District's Student Conservation Corps in Delaware County.
            An additional $10 million in funding for this program will become available in late Spring 2010. To receive notification when this funding is available, please sign up for the EPA listserv.
            The funds will help Climate Showcase Communities increase energy efficiency, saving consumers money and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 
            “These communities see the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change and are working with EPA to fight back,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  “We’re working on innovative, win-win strategies that reduce greenhouse gases and cut energy bills for families and businesses -- strategies that can be put in place to fight climate change in communities from Utah and         Ohio to China and India.”
            Preliminary calculations by the grant applicants estimate that by 2012 the projects will reduce about 135,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually—equivalent to the emissions from 25,000 passenger vehicles or 12,000 homes and save more than $4.5 million per year in energy costs. 
            Student Conservation Corps Project
            The West Chester Area School District's Student Conservation Corps will engage and incentivize the West Chester Borough business community to perform simple, no-cost conservation measures to achieve at least 10 percent reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. 
            Building on the foundation of an existing behaviorally based energy conservation effort in 16 schools, the Conservation Corps will create a team of 15 to 25 students to translate that model to the local business community. 
            The school district also will broaden its district-wide operational efficiency program to reduce energy use and GHG emissions by 10 percent. The final phase, which will occur beyond the scope of the Climate Showcase Communities grant, will showcase the operational efficiency improvements to the business community.
            The program funded by the Climate Showcase Communities grant will begin with the selection of a small group of high school students to form the Student Conservation Corps. The Corps will be led by two paid educators within the district who have already demonstrated leadership and expertise in the area of energy conservation. 
            The Corps will provide targeted presentations to a representative selection of business in West Chester Borough. They will ask businesses to take an energy conservation pledge, and will help them track energy use and GHG reductions using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager and other tracking tools that were developed by the district energy consultant. 
            The district's goal is to help local business experience the same energy successes as the district, and to shape a new paradigm of energy use that will lead to broader change.
            The Corps also will work to continue energy efficiency education within the school district. To aid in the education effort, the district's three middle schools and three high schools, which are responsible for 75 percent of total district energy use, will receive a “Building Dashboard” that illustrates real-time resource and energy use in the school. The dashboard allows students to further their understanding of how their behaviors affect energy and resource use.
            Additional efficiency projects in the school district will build on earlier conservation projects. Included in the work to be completed are investigations of HVAC systems efficiency, building lighting, and other facility audit functions, such as infrared scans of building envelopes. 
            Total district-wide GHG emissions and energy use reductions are expected to be 23 percent by the end of the program. These energy reducing measures will then be modeled to local businesses, creating an ongoing potential to reduce emissions beyond the scope of the grant project period.
            For more information, visit the EPA Climate Showcase Communities webpage.


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