HONESDALE—Representatives from the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) Energy Educators Fund (KEEF) recognized the sustainability efforts of Honesdale High School (HHS) with the Energy Champion Award, Friday morning, March 15.
Gregory Frigoletto, Superintendent of the Wayne Highlands School District (WHSD), stated via email “We are very proud to have won the award and thank the faculty, staff, students, and community for the role they played.”
Granted to schools in Pennsylvania that “...prove an extraordinary commitment to energy efficiency,” as stated in a KEEF release, the Energy Champion Award was given to HHS in recognition of their new energy efficiency and recycling initiatives and upgrades, including an industrial-grade food waste composter known as the “Rocket.”
Students in the HHS Sustainability Club demonstrated the school's initiatives to the KEEF representatives, as well as staff from the offices of Senator Lisa Baker and Representative Jonathan Fritz, the Wayne County Commissioners, the WHSD School Board, PPL Electric Utilities, Corporate Waste Consultants, the Sustainable Energy Fund and members of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP).
According to a KEEF press release, students at HHS designed a food waste reduction program, seeking assistance from the Wayne County Commissioners to apply for a PaDEP grant to finance the “Rocket.”
With the new plan and composter in place, “...practices contribute to save 50% on waste costs,” states the release. “The school has also implemented a number of student-inspired behavior change programs to reduce their electricity usage by up to 25%, which amounts to roughly $17,000 in savings.”
Referring to Friday's presentation, Frigoletto noted in an email “...it is estimated that 42,120 pounds (21.1 tons) of food waste is diverted from landfills each school year.
“Our disposal costs through less utilization of dumpsters and dumpster results in approximately 56% less in average monthly disposal costs, equaling approximately $20,000 a year in gross savings!
“Just as impressive, because of this process, the amount of environmentally damaging greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere has been reduced by 1.86 metric tons per month and 18.6 metric tons per school year.”
Frigoletto noted this reduction is equivalent to emissions produced by 45,477 miles driving in a car, 20,334 pounds of coal being burned, or 2,731,729 smartphones being charged.
Frigoletto explained via email, “Several years back, Wayne Highlands School District began to take a hard look at our energy consumption.
“Through some initial energy auditing, research and consulting, the District learned that there were multiple ways to conserve energy, waste less energy, and ultimately save on cost.
“Of course, updating equipment and other aspects of building and grounds was an effective option.”
The superintendent noted other solutions sought came in the form of monitoring behavior and changing human habit.
One example given was reworking room heating based on occupancy times and lighting based both on occupancy and whether natural lighting could be used to save on energy costs.
Frigoletto noted the next steps for the district include launching a “ newly 'reinvigorated' recycling effort in our classrooms.”
The KEEF release states HHS underwent an energy portfolio assessment with Warren Energy Engineering, and locked in favorable utility rates with a reverse energy auction.
The release notes the district plans to achieve Energy Star certification in all their buildings within ten years.
“The students, staff, and administration continue to work closely with local DEP officials and Commissioners to advance sustainability in the region,” states the release.
—Information from a release was used in this story.