Some local schools going greener

At a new eco-friendly school in DeKalb County, recycle bins sprout along walkways like wild flowers, fuel efficient cars get premium parking and cameos by deer, birds and snakes are highly anticipated.

At a Gwinnett County private school, 2,700 tons of asphalt and concrete have been replaced by grass and trees. Now the squeals of students playing on swings can be heard in the afternoon instead of the sputter of cars waiting in the pick-up lane.

As thousands of metro Atlanta students returned to school Monday, some are now learning on “green” campuses.

Students at the new Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia – one of the the state’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver-certified “green” high school, came prepared to talk about their summer outdoor adventures. On Tuesday, they must make class presentations about a visit to a state, local or national park.

“I went to places I’ve never been before,” said Michael Lee Jr., 15, of Stone Mountain, who is considering a career in environmental law. “It was actually pretty fun.”


Q. and A.: PCBs in School Classrooms


As I reported last week, many parents in New York City are worried about the presence of the chemicals known as PCBs in light fixtures and caulking in school buildings. The latest spot inspection by the federal Environmental Protection Agency — on Jan. 29 at Public School 68 in the Bronx –- turned up lighting ballasts that were leaking PCBs above the regulatory level of 50 parts per million in 10 of 13 samples taken, the agency announced Monday. Over the past several weeks, the E.P.A. found similar contamination at all three other city schools that it inspected, too.

Environmental Protection Agency

A ballast for a fluorescent lighting fixture that burst unexpectedly.For our Green blog readers, we submitted written questions to two experts at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan about any health risks faced by students and teachers.

The following responses, edited for brevity, were provided by Dr. Maida P. Galvez, an associate professor in the school’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics and the director of the hospital’s Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, and Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics who is chairman of community medicine and the Department of Preventive Medicine as well as the school’s dean of global health.

Q.When did doctors awaken to the dangers of PCBs, or ploychlorinated biphenyls?

A. Medical and environmental concern about the long environmental persistence and possible effects on human health of PCBs first arose in the 1960s and 1970s and led to a federal ban on the manufacture of PCBs that was imposed in 1976 under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Unfortunately, PCBs had already become widespread in the environment by that time, and they remain with us today...continue...

School's Solar Wall Provides Valuable Renewable-resource Lessons

Nick Martin , Winnipeg Free Press
January 20, 2011

ONTARIO, CANADA: Even when we all wake up to minus-34 temperatures, the sun rules at Carpathia School. The River Heights elementary school is the latest to get heat from a solar wall, a black contraption on the south side of the gymnasium that's now providing half the gym's heating needs.

But the kids can explain it so much better. "That black thing on the edge of the building is the solar wall," Grade 5 student Tannis Hydesmith told a media briefing. "The heat rises and goes into the ducts." The solar power, explained Logan Currie in terms that non-scientific adults could understand, covers about half the gym's heating needs, with the rest coming from natural gas from the school's boiler. "It costs less and it doesn't create any carbon dioxide," Logan said. Said Tyler Cassidy: "It's more efficient than heating with anything else. It costs less." Thus, Tyler said, it uses renewable resources.

About 20 Winnipeg School Division buildings have had environmental upgrades, but there's more to this green chapter. There will be another project involving 20 schools in the division that will include solar walls, said George Andrich, technical analyst with NRG Management, which is the division's energy management co-ordinator. The solar wall at Carpathia is approximately three metres tall and 12 metres wide and costs about $20,000, which the school is expected to recover in five to 10 years through reduced heating bills, said Dave Peacock, project manager with MCW Custom Energy Solutions Ltd.