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Championing Upper Merion Area School District to go green

Release Date: 10/03/2008
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA (October 3, 2008) Frederick Remelius is determined to make his school district buildings operate the way they should - - clean and green. He is on a daily campaign to solve the district's potential indoor air concerns and save energy and money.

There is a lot of talk these days about green buildings. But can they really help reduce operating costs and improve the environment? Are there practical ways of using these new green tools?

Judging by the results obtained by the Upper Merion Area School District, the answer is yes on both counts.

When Remelius started three years ago as building and grounds supervisor at the Upper Merion Area School District, plans were in place to add a new building. Remelius knew they would have to focus on energy efficiency, otherwise, "A new building can increase energy costs by one and half-times, I told them [the school board]. That was a real eyeball-opener for them, " Remelius said.

Remelius credits many people throughout the district for the progress they have made. Under his guidance the district has:
- reduced energy use - - at some schools by over 33%
- safely removed and disposed of mercury thermometers and barometers from labs
- tested all school buildings for radon
- looked for and fixed potential indoor air quality problems

      - saved the district $117,000 on energy costs last year despite rising energy prices and the addition of a new 54,000 sq. foot athletic building which includes two large gyms, a pool and locker rooms.
Remelius attributes these successes to a number of factors including EPA's Energy Star Program and Tools for Schools Program. EPA's Tools for Schools Program shows how to avoid potential indoor air quality (IAQ) problems with good ventilation, integrated pest management, and proper use and storage of cleaning supplies. Energy Star focuses on energy efficiency. According to Remelius these are very useful 'self-help programs.'

He went on to say," Right on the spine of the (IAQ) workbook every major organization had approved of this program including the American Lung Association, the American Federation of Teachers, National PTA, National Education Association and EPA. These materials help give my department believability and credibility."

Remelius also credits EPA's regional Tools for School coordinator Cristina Schulingkamp, who he said, has been extremely helpful. "Schools are their own world. So when someone comes from outside, schools can get defensive. But these programs, and Cristina, are the voluntary-side of EPA, not the enforcement side." Remelius and Schulingkamp recently talked with Delaware Valley Association of School Business Officials about how EPA's resources may help them, too.

Remelius said, "going to EPA's national indoor air quality (IAQ) training symposium last year was useful." This year he will be teaching at the national symposium. School officials, facilities managers, parents and others interested in indoor air quality can sign up for the symposium from December 4 - 6 in Washington, D. C.

On Monday, Oct. 6 EPA's Cristinia Schulingkamp will join Remelius at Upper Merion's school board meeting at 7 p.m. to recognize the schools in the district with 'Great Start' Awards for indoor air quality improvement. Recognition will go to Upper Merion Area High School, Upper Merion Area Middle School, Caley Elementary School, and Candlebrook Elementary School in King of Prussia, Pa.; Roberts Elementary School in Wayne; and Bridgeport Elementary School in Bridgeport, Pa.

Check out EPA's healthy schools web-resources for useful ways to improve school environments:

Healthy School Environments:
Tools for School :
Energy Star:
Healthy School for Environment Assesstment Tool, know as HealthySEAT:
School Chemical Clean-out Campaign:
EPA's national indoor air quality symposium:
Clean School Bus USA