A North Brooklyn middle school is leading the citywide charge on energy efficiency.
John Ericsson Middle School 126, on Leonard Street, is now the only public school, and government run building in the entire city to receive the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star – awarded to buildings and products that work to reduce energy consumption and prevent pollution.
For the school’s principal, Marcos Bausch, the award came as a surprise, but not because the school hasn’t worked hard on conserving energy, but because it never actively campaigned for the status.
In fact, the school focuses on environmental engineering programs, and since Bausch joined in 2011, the curriculum has emphasized sustainability, with students actively participating in energy conservation competitions.
“It’s a huge deal for us and it will be amazing when the EPA actually puts the seal on the school,” said Bausch. “We need to keep finding creative ways to reduce consumption.”
The school has been doing just that.
Students worked with Solar One, the city’s energy, arts, and education center, to create a Clean Tech Curriculum, where they got a hands-on approach in learning about sustainability.
Part of the curriculum asks students to use their own building as a laboratory, by assessing the building’s efficiency, and reducing the impact it has on the environment, climate, and well-being of the students and faculty.
Students also learn about renewable energy resources like wind, solar power, and biomass through a series of activities and investigations conducted by the students themselves.
Last year, the students at M.S. 126 took part in the Green Cup Challenge, a month-long, interschool competition organized by the Green School Alliance, a peer-to-peer school network that works to solve problems of climate change and conservation.
During the challenge, students helped reduce electricity consumption at the building by over 30 percent, and as a result it placed 10th among 200 schools that participated in the Green Cup Challenge.
For Bausch, the Energy Star is recognition for and culmination of all those efforts.
“We didn’t seek out the EPA, but it is great that they are looking at all these statistics,” said Bausch. “This school has witnessed such a dramatic turnaround and this is a fantastic accolade in addition to long list of accomplishments the students have achieved at this school.”
The EPA launched its Energy Star program in 1992 as a voluntary initiative to identify and promote efficient products and buildings.
M.S. 126 is the only public school in the city to receive the certification, although five private schools – Allen Stevenson School, Collegiate School, Corlears School, Lycee Francais, and the Saint Joseph High School – have also received Energy Stars.
“We are improving the environment in our schools to be more energy efficient and we are currently helping to certify one school building per borough with an Energy Star Certification based on certain metrics such as use of lights,” said a spokesperson for city’s Department of Education. “We hope to expand to many more school buildings in the future.”
The certification ceremony will take place in September when the school is back in session.
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