NYC and Solar One Challenge Schools: Save Energy, Win Money

In an effort to reduce energy consumption in all public buildings, New York City is asking for participation from schools and turning it into a game.

The city is challenging schools to compete with each other to save energy, and schools that slash their energy consumption the most win grants from a pool of $30,000. It's part of the Green Design Lab, a pilot program involving 30 schools that's run by the city's Department of Education and Solar One, the environmental arts and education center.

Multi-Purpose Program
The Green Design Lab has two objectives: to boost both ecological literacy among students (and likely teachers, in the process), and performance improvements in the school buildings themselves.

The Wall Street Journal had a great story earlier this month about how the Green Design Lab and New York City's focus on schools is part of its goal to reduce emissions from public buildings by 2017.

Schools are now being challenged to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and electricity use by 5 to 10 percent, and grants go to the schools that reduce their energy consumption the most.

The WSJ story explains the program, which brings teachers into schools for up to 24 weeks, along with other green initiatives the city is undertaking in schools:

Through lessons, labs, and projects such as installing green roofs and gardens, Solar One instructors spend one or two classroom periods a week teaching five different units, including energy, air, water, materials and food. The group hopes to expand to 150 schools in the next three years.

The Green Design Lab is not the only sustainability initiative being embraced by New York City schools. On Thursday, the New York State Education Department announced that it was joining the federal Green Ribbon Schools program, which honors the most environmentally progressive schools. The same day, the New York City Council approved construction of the city's first "energy neutral" school.

Inhabitat explains more:

Students will lead projects that help green both their schools and communities through education and community outreach. The hands-on activities will encourage students to reduce energy through simple steps like unplugging unused electronics and shutting off the lights in empty classrooms.

Executive Director Chris Collins talked with the Journal about the tri-fold effect of the program: "Reduce energy use, reduce CO2 emissions, and save the school money and increase student knowledge."

Check out the Green Design Lab website to see what schools are participating and what kind of curriculum they're working with.

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