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ENERGY STAR: Wyandotte Schools Recognized for labeling all buildings.
- Subject: ENERGY STAR: Wyandotte Schools Recognized for labeling all buildings.
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- Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 11:38:36 -0400
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For a complete text of this Detroit News Story, see
By Anne Fracassa / Special to The Detroit News
WYANDOTTE -- They're squeezing every ounce of energy out of school
buildings in Wyandotte, and it's being done so effectively the Downriver
district has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for
being among the most environmentally friendly in the country.
All 10 schools earned the honors for being green-friendly with
projects such as installing new roofs and more efficient air conditioners.
They are the only schools in Michigan so honored.
As a physical science teacher and environmental coordinator for
Woodrow Wilson Middle School's Warrior Science Club, Michael White has
encouraged students to be involved with ecosystems in the area.
Max Ortiz / The Detroit News George Kareha, left, plants a tree with
classmates, from right, Greg Hodge, Patrick Yee and Allison Wong. Teacher
Michael White supervises. <<...OLE_Obj...>>
About the Energy Star program * Only 216 schools in 10 school districts in
the country have earned the EPA award. * Other states with the Energy Star
label award are in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas,
Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin and West Virginia. * To be
eligible, buildings must have at least 5,000 square feet of gross building
area, have 50 percent used as office space, be in use 11 of 12 months and be
in operation at least 35 hours per week.
His seventh- and eighth-graders are active in the Friends of the Rouge River
and Ecorse Creek and take part in testing water quality and cleanup in the
fall and spring.
"The kids were very involved in several events and construction projects
over the past few years that have resulted in recognition from the
Department of Natural Resources," he said. "One project we're especially
proud of is our butterfly garden, which is a 790-square-foot open courtyard
behind our school. It's open year-round and we get visits from up to 200
butterflies during the summer months."
So it was a natural when Wyandotte schools decided to become one of the
first districts in the five-state Midwest region to earn the federal Energy
Star label for buildings, giving it the mark of excellence in energy
EPA representatives from the Chicago regional office last week presented
plaques for each of the 10 buildings at Wilson Middle School. Eighth-graders
also planted a tree in honor of the award and Earth Day.
"With limited funds, the district can use these energy savings toward direct
student expenditures. This is a win-win, in quality of buildings and use of
funds," Supt. Patricia Cole said.
In 1999, Wyandotte Schools entered into a performance contract with Auburn
Hills-based Johnson Controls Inc. In addition to its heavy involvement in
the auto industry, the company manufactures, installs, services, operates
and maintains mechanical and electrical systems that control energy use,
heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security and fire
management for commercial buildings.
"Because the district had aging buildings that were increasing operations
costs, we knew we could go and take out some of the old systems and replace
them with energy efficient systems which would ultimately save them up to 40
percent in energy costs," Natasha Vassallo of Johnson Controls said. "We
guaranteed them an energy savings of $868,159 over a term of five years."
Upgrading the 10 buildings involved new lights, boilers, ventilation and air
"The buildings' performance is better than the average stock of buildings
and their energy use was at least 44 percent lower than the market average,"
Having the awards presentation a day after Earth Day -- which is April 22 --
brought home the message of environmental quality to Woodrow Wilson
"Earth Day is important because it reminds us to conserve our planet's
resources and protect our environment," said Patrick Yee, an eighth-grader
in the Warrior Science Club. "Being a part of (the club) gives me a chance
to go out and do something that will benefit my community."
Elizabeth Schweyen said the awards were important "because conservation of
our energy and resources will be vital to my generation."
Allison Wong, also an eighth-grader, said Earth Day 2001 was exciting
because her school was involved in helping the environment and that's what
Earth Day is all about -- when citizens do what they can to improve the
"The Warrior Science Club has given me a chance to get to know my peers
while improving our environment," she said.
George Kareha has been involved in the science club for two years and said
an outing by Friends of the Ecorse Creek is his favorite event of the year.
"I enjoy getting into the creek with my waders and helping to clean the
creek," he said. "The Earth is the only gateway to life. If we don't take
care of our Earth, then we simply won't survive. Earth Day is important
because it gives people a chance to come together and take care of the
Anne Fracassa is a Metro Detroit free-lance writer.
The Cadmus Group.
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Arlington, VA 22209
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