New York public schools are being challenged to save as much energy as possible as part of an initiative with the Green Design Lab program. The thirty participating schools will have the chance to win grants totaling $30,000, sponsored by non-profit Solar One and the New York City Department of Education Sustainability Initiative and Division of School Facilities. The Energy Challenge will ask schools to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and electricity use by 5 to 10 percent.
The partner schools eligible for the award money encompass grades kindergarten through 12th, and the program will run until April. Students will lead projects that help green both their schools and communities through education and community outreach. The hands-on activities will encourage students to reduce energy through simple steps like unplugging unused electronics and shutting off the lights in empty classrooms.
The three top schools stand to win prizes of $12,000 for first place, and $9,000 for runners up. The money will go toward the schools’ annual budgets. Students will hone their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, while also monitoring their personal and school’s consumption, relating energy usage to practical school subjects. Green educators will be on hand in each school two days a week, thanks to the Green Design Lab. They will cover energy, air quality, water, food and green materials in two programs scheduled for fall and spring.
The Green Design Lab currently involves 7,500 NYC students, but the program aims to expand even further and help 150 schools over the next three years. The program is also in conjunction with Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to decrease energy usage in municipal buildings by 30 percent by the year 2017.
Lead image ©William Alatrist, and @Pauline Augustine, courtesy of Green Design Lab.