“The Green Teams are about bringing the work we do with school districts full circle,” said Greg Smith, president of Energy Optimizers, USA. “Our solutions enable school districts to conserve energy by replacing outdated electrical and HVAC systems with energy efficient alternatives. Then we help these districts create grassroots-level teams that are engaged in creating and leading long-term energy conservation and sustainability projects that all students can contribute to or learn from.”
In the Tri-Village Schools district, Green Team students have been collecting plastic bags for recycling and distributing reusable bags in return. Students in grades 3-6 also recently completed a pill bottle recycling project. The students collected more than 730 bottles that they sent to Matthew 25: Ministries in Blue Ash, Ohio. The organization will then send those bottles to areas that need containers to transport and store medications.
“The project provided a very concrete example for students that one person’s trash could be useful to someone else in need,” said Josh Sagester, Superintendent, Tri-Village School District.
In Trotwood-Madison City Schools, the district’s Green Team has set a goal to encourage recycling by placing collection boxes for recyclable items in classrooms. The district will also unveil a new community garden at its early learning center in 2017.
“With our community garden, students and our community members will be able to experience firsthand the relationship between a healthy planet and healthy bodies,” said Marlon Howard, Director of Operations, Trotwood-Madison City Schools.
In addition to providing the materials and support to get the teams up and running, Energy Optimizers, USA, provides scholarships for participating students, an educational trip to The Ohio State University to build a district “Energy Bike” and numerous after-school activities.
For Smith, sponsoring Green Teams isn’t just about instilling conservation-minded habits in school districts and their communities. Smith is also helping to shape the future of the industry. That’s because the teams offer the additional benefit of exposing students to career pathways in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
“STEM careers in general and energy management careers in particular are high growth fields,” said Smith. “Our hope is that by exposing students to these career options, they may take an interest in the field and perhaps one day work for us.”