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  Thursday February 26th, 2015    

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Changing Winona school colors (02/11/2007)
By Paul Durand
The ‘ole" orange & black is adding some "green."

It seems to be everywhere. All over the place you can see signs of new interest in the topics of energy conservation, renewable sources and managing our resources in a way that keeps our environment and world clean and safe. Nationally, educational institutions spend more on energy costs than on textbooks and computers combined. The "green revolution" has been written about, talked about and researched. Many have speculated that global warming and greenhouse gases are changing our environment and the ecosystem of our planet. Most will agree that solutions to these, and many others, problems rests with education, research and technology, mixed with a little common sense.

Future generations, our children and grandchildren, the students in classrooms today must be empowered with tools (math/science/technology) and the skills (reading/writing/problem solving) to work together (languages/volunteerism/student activities) to solve common societal and international problems. The WAPS Board of Education has set a proactive direction for our school district encouraging us to build an organization that demonstrates and provides examples for our students of energy conservation. District #861, the Winona Area Public Schools, have made good progress around the goal of energy conservation.

Below are but a few indicators of our progress:

" Energy Education Management Program: Over the past two years District #861, through the hard work and cooperation of our staff and students, has carefully followed a district-wide energy management program developed by Energy Education Incorporated. Much of the savings was a result of turning lights off when not in use, controlling room temperatures and keeping equipment properly and efficiently running. The primary goals have been. Since the start of the program we have saved over $367,986 in energy costs while maintaining comfort/safety and eliminating the equivalent of 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of energy waste. These savings are equal to: 2.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions being prevented, or 193 automobiles being removed from highways annually, or 400 acres of trees being planted!

" Federal Bond Awarded: The U.S. Government just announced that District #861 received a three million dollar Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREB). Overall, there were 786 governmental and cooperative applicants from 40 states seeking a total of $2.5 billion in bond authorization (three times what was available). Projects ranged in size from $23,000 to $3.2 million. With this bond the district will join thirteen other school districts (each receiving 3 million) and form the Minnesota Schools Wind Energy Cooperative. Through a joint powers agreement we will develop a wind turbine farm on the Buffalo Ridge in SW Minnesota and sell the energy generated for use in the national power grid reducing the total cost of ownership and increasing our rate of return.

" WAPS earns EPA Energy STAR Award: District #861 earned the U.S.. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) prestigious ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy performance. WAPS facilities join approximately 930 buildings nationwide that earned the ENERGY STAR in 2006. By earning the ENERGY STAR, District #861 is using about 35% less energy than average buildings, while still providing quality service and comfort to occupants. In 2005 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved $12 billion and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from 23 million vehicles.

" Future Energy Saving? This spring we will work with the TRANE corporation on an energy saving equation to see if any of our WAPS schools can be retrofitted and benefit from the installation of Geothermal HVAC systems to provide for the heating and cooling needs. The result could be an overall operating energy savings for the school district and an environmentally responsible design for the future.

No, we are not planning to change the Winhawk colors from orange & black. But we are committed to adding a few "green" highlights by continuing to find creative ways to make District #861 a more energy efficient and responsible organization. 


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