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Program that "Greens" Ohio Schools Could Be Cut

PHOTO: Programs that help schools such as Milton-Union High School become more energy efficient could be cut under a proposal under consideration in the state Senate. Photo courtesy: Milton-Union Schools.
PHOTO: Programs that help schools such as Milton-Union High School become more energy efficient could be cut under a proposal under consideration in the state Senate. Photo courtesy: Milton-Union Schools.
March 11, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio leads the nation in sustainable school design, with more than 300 schools either registered or certified as a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) school, but Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 would end the program. LEED focuses on improvements in energy and water efficiency, sustainable site development, material selection and indoor environmental quality. The Milton-Union School District is LEED Gold certified.

Superintendent Dr. Ginny Rammel said her students and teachers are grateful for the results.

"This is such a much better place to teach and learn, with the indoor air quality, with the fact that our students can learn about conservation, and of course the cost benefit," Rammel said. "If we can reduce our costs on energy needs, where does that money go? It goes back into the classroom."

Proponents of SCR 25 claim LEED should not be used because it does not follow American National Standards Institute consensus procedures, but opponents say the measure actually comes from chemical and other carbon-intensive industries concerned about their profits. They want LEED certification maintained because it promotes energy efficiency, preserves natural resources and encourages state projects to use locally sourced materials.

Energy-efficiency improvements implemented in the Milton-Union School District include windows that bring in the maximum amount of daylight, solar shades, rainwater harvesting and high-efficiency air-chill coolers. And Rammel said that's not all.

"We have a 15-kilowatt wind turbine and a 32-kilowatt photobiotic array. On unoccupied weekends, that produces approximately 30 percent of our energy needs," she said, "which is absolutely great.

In addition to reducing electric and gas costs by 40 percent with energy-efficiency improvements, the green initiatives offer the advantage of being used as teaching tools, she said.

"The students see this first-hand; they don't read it out of a textbook. They see the solar thermal panels on the roof, they see the solar shades, and they realize their importance," Rammel said.

SCR 25 was approved by a Senate committee and will be assigned to a committee in the House.

The bill is available at www.legislature.state.oh.us.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH