St. Stephens Reduces Emissions

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School grows “greener” every year, thanks to the efforts of community members, who are digging deeper into their roles as stewards of the environment. Everywhere you look on their three campuses, students, teachers, staff, and parents are working to raise awareness and take positive measures to be sustainable in all areas of school life. From classrooms to the campus gardens, beekeeping to composting, assemblies to clubs, and energy-efficient equipment to solar panels, sustainability continues to permeate St. Stephen's school culture.

As part of their commitment to sustainability, in 2007-08, the school committed to a more sustainable future when it underwent a comprehensive sustainability audit to measure baseline energy consumption, carbon emissions related to transportation and commuting, volumes of waste and recycling output, and daily campus practices. Based on the audit results, SSSAS established goals in three primary areas:

-Reducing the school’s carbon footprint
-Reducing consumption and solid waste generation
-Incorporating sustainability principles to create a “culture of sustainability throughout the school”

As a result of dozens of school initiatives, SSSAS has posted a 23-percent reduction in carbon emissions from the 2008 baseline. The JK-12 Sustainability Committee is now working to strategize on the next steps. “We are encouraged by this figure,” said Mr. Kane. “But we need to go deeper and consider the best ways to continue reducing our emissions.”

The school’s carbon emissions primarily result from electricity consumption in all of the campus buildings, which is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 530 automobiles or 130 single-family homes. To offset some of its impacts, SSSAS is considering the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs). SSSAS has already purchased RECs to offset 100 percent of the emissions related to the school’s natural gas usage. The behaviors of students, faculty, and staff on each campus are helping as well, particularly in events such as the annual, winter-based “Green Cup Challenge,” in which SSSAS competes amongst our campuses and with other regional schools to reduce electricity consumption from a baseline. This year, SSSAS placed second in the Washington, D.C. region and third in the Mid-Atlantic, reducing our electricity consumption by 12.8 percent over the four-week challenge. In 2012 our school placed first in the region and second in the nation.

Since 2008, SSSAS has reduced their electricity consumption by 24 percent and our gas consumption by 28 percent, largely due to the energy conservation measures taken in all campus facilities. These actions include more energy-efficient lighting systems and appliances and the conversion to solar hot water at the Middle and Upper Schools. “Our Buildings and Grounds Department has undertaken every opportunity to reduce our emissions through an initial round of low-cost, good-sense decisions. Now it will take major behavioral changes, as well as investment in capital improvements, to move to the ‘deep green’ level,” Mr. Kane said.
Posted by Sharon Jaye on Aug 11, 2017 1:43 PM America/Chicago

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