Thursday, September 29, 2011

Energy Efficiency: Obama's American Jobs Act and the Green Schools Program

President Obama's American Jobs Act, and programs like Green Schools, leverage efficiency initiatives to make America greener and stronger. In addition to being cost effective, energy efficiency is the quickest way of reducing electric power consumption.

President Obama’s American Jobs Act would modernize schools across the country by making them more energy efficient. This will save energy and reduce the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. It will also create jobs while saving money.

The President’s proposed $25 billion investment in school infrastructure to modernize at least 35,000 public schools will include funds for “greening and energy efficiency upgrades,” according to a White House fact sheet.

“Energy efficiency upgrades are an essential component of the president’s plan to create jobs by making substantial investments in our nation’s school buildings, some in communities with the highest needs,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. “In many schools, energy costs are second only to personnel costs and can far exceed what is spent on textbooks, other supplies and activities critical to learning.”

The Alliance to Save Energy, Green Schools Program educates students about energy and the importance of energy efficiency, as well as trained to use a diagnostic toolkit that assesses the energy usage in their school. The school building becomes a learning lab for students to apply science, math and even language arts to solve a global problem.

Through basic changes in operations, maintenance and individual behavior, schools participating in the Green Schools Program have achieved reductions in energy use of 5 to 15 percent. In addition, the Green Schools Program encourages and equips students to promote the lessons of energy efficiency in their homes and communities.

"Green Schools offer K-12 students high-quality learning opportunities by integrating energy efficiency information into their science, math and language arts curricula." Callahan said. “They aren’t just conserving energy at school, they are learning how to be lifelong stewards of energy savings."

The Alliance to Save Energy indicate that schools can save as much as 15% through no-cost, student-initiated behavior and operations changes. Schools are an ideal context for these efforts because, as noted by Callahan, these energy efficiency lessons are taken out of the classroom and into the wider community.

If passed, the American Jobs Act will partner seamlessly with the Green Schools Program to further efficiency and promote invaluable learning opportunities.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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