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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

The Student Conservation Corps: Building a New Energy Foundation

West Chester Area School District, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Federal Funding: $149,992
Project Timeline: February 2010 – January 2012

Latest Update

The West Chester Area School District Student Conservation Corps (SCC) completed energy audits of five area businesses. The students' findings and recommendations were presented to 200 community leaders and additional local school districts. The students have been invited to lead a day-long conference event to share their findings with the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and the Pennsylvania Green Schools Resource Center. The SCC also continued its awareness and education campaign to all staff throughout the West Chester Area School District, and presented to all 16 schools in the district. These outreach efforts have resulted in behavior changes at the schools and reduced electricity consumption by nearly 1.3 million kWh as of June 2011. The SCC is currently finalizing the energy audits of all 16 West Chester Area schools and planning GHG reduction projects.

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March 11, 2010 Press Event

Region 3 EPA Administrator Shawn Garvin, West Chester School District Superintendant Dr. Jim Scanlon, and other school officials answer questions about the project.

Project Summary

An Original Education Partnership in the West Chester Area School District to Reduce Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The West Chester Area School District's Student Conservation Corps will engage and incentivize the West Chester Borough business community to perform simple, no-cost conservation measures to achieve at least 10% reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Building on the foundation of an existing behaviorally based energy conservation effort in 16 schools, the Conservation Corps will create a team of 15 to 25 students to translate that model to the local business community. The school district will also broaden its district-wide operational efficiency program to reduce energy use and GHG emissions by 10%. The final phase, which will occur beyond the scope of the Climate Showcase Communities grant, will showcase the operational efficiency improvements to the business community.

The program funded by the Climate Showcase Communities grant will begin with the selection of a small group of high school students to form the Student Conservation Corps. The Corps will be led by two paid educators within the district who have already demonstrated leadership and expertise in the area of energy conservation. The Corps will provide targeted presentations to a representative selection of business in West Chester Borough. They will ask businesses to take an energy conservation pledge, and will help them track energy use and GHG reductions using the ENERGY STAR portfolio manager and other tracking tools that were developed by the district energy consultant. The district's goal is to help local business experience the same energy successes as the district, and to shape a new paradigm of energy use that will lead to broader change.

The Corps also will work to continue energy efficiency education within the school district. To aid in the education effort, the district's three middle schools and three high schools, which are responsible for 75 percent of total district energy use, will receive a "Building Dashboard" that illustrates real-time resource and energy use in the school. The dashboard allows students to further their understanding of how their behaviors affect energy and resource use.

Additional efficiency projects in the school district will build on earlier conservation projects. Included in the work to be completed are investigations of HVAC systems efficiency, building lighting, and other facility audit functions, such as infrared scans of building envelopes. Total district-wide GHG emissions and energy use reductions are expected to be reduced by 23 percent by the end of the program. These energy reducing measures will then be modeled to local businesses, creating an ongoing potential to reduce emissions beyond the scope of the grant project period.

Community Characteristics

Population: 83,000
Area: 75 square miles
Government Type: School District
Community Type: Urban, Suburban, and Rural
Median Household Income: $64,777 - $100,732

Program Results/Estimated Results

Total Expected GHG Reductions: 1,960 metric tons CO2e
GHG Reductions (as of October 2010): 366 metric tons CO2e
Expected District Energy Reductions: 10%
Electricity Reductions (as of October 2010): 641.048 kWh
Expected Borough Wide Energy Reductions: 1%

Project Website

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