Sustainable Jersey for Schools, created by Sustainable Jersey in collaboration with NJSBA, identifies resources to help schools develop sustainability programs, including financial resources and technical support.
Last summer, Sustainable Jersey for Schools provided seven school districts in Monmouth and Ocean counties with technical support. Thanks to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps fellowship program, we paired three specially-trained fellows with school districts to provide expertise and support for evaluation, planning and implementation of projects that will help improve the energy performance of their buildings.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools worked with three EDF Climate Corps fellows: Ame Igharo (Columbia University), Danielle Salah (Presidio Graduate School) and Lindsey Walaski (Villanova University). EDF Climate Corps is an eight-year-old program that provides private and public organizations with help to find energy savings within their buildings and operations.
Liz Delaney, program director for EDF Climate Corps said, “This is our second successful year working with Sustainable Jersey. I’m proud of the work that our three graduate-student fellows did with the schools and feel confident that these future energy leaders are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Recommendations for Energy Improvement
As a first step, the students collected data to gain a baseline of how energy was being used in each school building. This data was used to identify opportunities for energy improvement, establish an energy management system to ensure that the staff was aware of energy consumption and to complete the Sustainable Jersey for Schools’ energy actions.
The list of the EDF fellows’ accomplishments included – among other items – developing a roadmap for expanding the recycling program at the Matawan Aberdeen school district; proposing an energy-saving investment plan for Long Branch; and assisting the Lavallette school district in applying for a Local Government Energy Audit (LGEA).
The EDF students also alerted districts to the long-term economic benefits of energy efficiency projects, as well as making the school administrators aware of the financial incentive programs offered by the New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP).
For example, Lindsey Walaski worked with the Shrewsbury Borough school district to track the school’s electricity and natural gas consumption and begin identifying energy-efficiency initiatives. “I helped the district apply for a fully-funded energy audit through NJCEP,” she said. “This audit will provide the school with specific conservation measures to reduce operating costs and to enhance the reliability and efficiency of building operations. I identified potential projects for the school, including variable frequency drives and LED lighting replacements. NJCEP rebates covered 40 percent of the capital costs for these projects, which allowed the school to tackle issues within their facilities and maintenance program and increase the sustainability of their operations.”
Sustainable Jersey for Schools provides actions that serve as a roadmap for schools and school districts that want to get started. The energy actions include: energy audit, building efficiency measures, energy tracking and management, sustainable energy transition plan, buy renewable electricity and more. These actions are available on the Sustainable Jersey for Schools website (www.sustainablejerseyschools.com) and include a description of what needs to be done, the project costs, resources needed and examples of how other schools have accomplished the action.
The technical assistance program with EDF Fellows was made possible through funding from New Jersey Natural Gas. “We’re proud to connect communities with the resources they need to make wise energy choices,” said Anne-Marie Peracchio, director of conservation and clean energy policy for New Jersey Natural Gas. “This unique opportunity helps the host school districts bridge the gap between available resources and energy-efficiency initiatives.”