Last Friday, LifeCity held a Green Seminar, co-hosted by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, to launch its latest initiative, the Green School Group.
“Schools are the foundation for our future economy, and they too have a bottom line. The more money they save, the more resources they have to support student learning,” said Liz Shephard, LifeCity’s Chief Sustainability Officer.The aim of the Green School Group will be to increase the triple bottom-line of New Orleans Area schools by compiling green services, products, and practices into and accessible, affordable package.
LifeCity will work with schools to save money by implementing energy efficiency measures that reduce utility bills and by gaining access to LifeCity member discounts on green products and services like recycling and environmentally-friendly carpet cleaning. Improving the bottom line—and consequently a school’s environmental impact—leaves more money to invest in educational programming, extracurricular activities, textbooks, healthy lunches, teacher's salaries and more.
Additionally, the Green School Group will streamline access to educational opportunities (with LifeCity members such as Energy Wise Alliance and Global Green) that leverage a more sustainable environment as a teaching tool for kids. We’ll also identify opportunities and challenges related to environmental and social impact, tailored to each school’s individual situation.
At Friday’s event, Jamie Wine spoke about the Energy Wise Alliance’s energy efficiency education outreach, which will focus on schools as not just buildings that can save energy but as places to promote behavioral change.
Ms. Shephard described the Green School Group's role as a one-stop-shop for finding clear information about sustainable products and services and the tools you need to save money while making a bigger impact on New Orleans.
Anthony Crim of New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School began the presentations by describing how continuously rising prices from his waste disposal vendor set off a chain of events that transformed his school for the better.
His take home message was that budget epiphanies happen if you’re on the forefront of a trend. By taking an innovative and holistic approach to improve his bottom line, Anthony saved money for his school, reduced waste, started recycling, implemented a change to reusable lunch trays and partnered with LifeCity to accelerate cost-saving, environmentally friendly changes at his school.
Following Mr. Crim, Janet Davas spoke about how Liberty’s Kitchen is feeding 1500 students healthy lunches and all the while using this revenue stream and food service business model as a vehicle to impart occupational training to at-risk youth.
Jolie Lemoine of the US Green Building Council explained, "Green schools use 33 % less energy and 32% less water than conventionally constructed schools. On average, green schools save nearly $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks."
Jackie Dadakis gave some concrete examples of how Green Coast Enterprises has partnered with local schools to reduce energy costs. Since November 25, 2013, they have already saved C.G. Woodson School over $8,500 (based on daily usage from 12 energy bills higher).
Ms. Lemoine also noted that USGBC provides a framework through its Green Schools Challenge to participate in sustainability without having to participate in new construction.
These groups and our entire network of LifeCity members are thrilled to welcome schools and ready to support those who make the commitment to become more sustainable, both financially and environmentally.
Interested in joining the Green School Group or being a service provider? Contact Mary Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org