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Sustainability Planning & Action in Jeffco

Sustainability Planning & Action in Jeffco
Posted on 10/17/2018
Dunstan Middle School students visit Carmody Recreation Center to learn about their sustainability practices.Students at Dunstan Middle School are taking a unique science elective class this year – they are rewriting the City of Lakewood Sustainability Plan in terms students can understand. City staff and Dunstan educators are collaborating on this hands-on learning opportunity.

“It’s exciting to involved students in this process,” said Christy Cerrone, who works for the City of Lakewood in the Sustainable Neighborhoods program. “The work we do now ultimately benefits them, so they should have a say.”

In September, the class took a field trip to see sustainability in action. Using the type of transportation encouraged in the plan, walking, and public transportation, the class traveled to Carmody Recreation Center. The rec center, closed to the public to make upgrades and perform annual maintenance, was a great opportunity for the 6-8th graders to see how the written plan works in real life. Students viewed eco-friendly improvements, including a new boiler, LED lighting, and more efficient air exchange equipment in the pool area.

When asked why sustainability was important, sixth-grader Ella explained, “Because it’s helping our environment and protecting natural resources and making them last.”

Once they arrived at Carmody Recreation Center, students listened to an overview of the project and asked questions before touring the facility to see the changes first hand.

“Does it cost more to retrofit the building than what it saves?” asked Logan, another sixth-grader.

Great question! Erik Greensfelder of McKinstry Consulting explained that some of the improvements, like LED lights, will pay for themselves in a short time since the replacement light fixtures and LED bulbs use 50% less energy and last longer resulting in a $10,000/year energy cost savings. Others, like the boiler, will take years to pay for themselves, so the investment is really about less impact on the environment than about saving money. Carmody Recreation Center was built in 1970 with an addition in 2000. Since there have been many advances in energy efficiency since the original build, the upgrades make a big difference in energy and water savings, as well as saving over $30,000 a year in operation costs.

In the same vein, Jeffco Public Schools is looking at LED lighting for all facilities if voters approve the bond issue on the November 6 ballot. The district has already installed LED fixtures in several pilot program areas with positive results.

“We have a lot of older schools, so this is not a small investment,” said Tim Reed, Executive Director of Facilities and Construction. “However, improvement to student environment, energy savings and lower maintenance are all worth that investment.”

It would cost approximately $25 million to replace the old light fixtures with LED fixtures in all Jeffco Public Schools. The upgrade would save 10% on the electric bill, and reduce maintenance cost since LED lamps last three-four times longer than fluorescent bulbs.

“We would also use this opportunity to redesign lighting in interior classrooms to mimic natural lighting,” Reed further explained. “LED is much better for the planet, yes, but we hope to improve our student environment to enhance learning as well.”
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