Area school divisions acknowledged for green efforts

Shenandoah and Frederick county public schools have been honored as green schools.

Frederick County was one of nine school divisions to receive top awards in the Virginia School Boards Association’s Green Schools Challenge, according to a news release from the association. The division won first place in its category – a division with a student population of 5,001 to 10,000. Second place in that category went to Fairfax City Public Schools and third to Manassas City schools.

Other winning divisions were the counties of Pulaski, Buckingham, Middlesex, Roanoke and Augusta, and the city of Virginia Beach.

Frederick County won a platinum certification of 175-200 green points, measured by new actions the division implemented and new policies it adopted.

Shenandoah County, which earned a gold certification rating, with 150-175 green points, was recognized among an additional 33 school divisions as being Certified Green School Divisions.

Winners were recognized Thursday at the association’s annual convention, held in Williamsburg.

Now in its sixth year, the friendly competition encourages the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions generated by a local school division and the broader community.

By participating in an energy performance contract with Ameresco Inc., Shenandoah schools reported that it saved 3,144,695 kilowatts of energy on electricity since the contract started in the 2010-11 financial year. It also saved 169,321 therms of natural gas and 84,618 gallons of fuel oil, according to a report Ameresco sent to the district.

The savings equate to the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions by 8,133,657 pounds a year, which in turn amounts to removing 777 cars from the road and planting 3,024 acres of trees.

All savings were realized as a result of the new HVAC system updates, lighting retrofits and the new building automation system installed under the performance contract, the district reported. Additionally the division saved 1,306,000 gallons of water during its first contract year.

Since 2009, the school division has been recognized several times in the Green Schools Challenge.

The district also has presented a broader challenge to the community, asking students, parents and teachers to report to the school ways that classes are and can be greener, according to Cynthia Page, division director of finance.

“This is a local issue as well as a global issue,” she stated in the release. “We don’t take for granted the natural beauty that is around us in the Shenandoah Valley. We want to help preserve it.”