How Schools Can Start a Green Initiative

Guest Post

There are many schools looking to go green and start the green initiative as a way of doing something positive for the environment while also teaching the children that attend the school the actual importance behind protecting the environment from pollution, toxic chemicals, and some harmful gases that are released into the air. There are many things that schools can do to start taking the initiative and protect the environment.

Change Lighting in Classrooms
The lighting in the classrooms is one of the easiest steps for schools to take to go green. Instead of using outdated energy wasting incandescent light bulbs, the schools should be using compact fluorescent light bulbs in each room. These light bulbs are more affordable, last longer, and also help to save energy. Conserving energy is important with the process of going green, which is why it makes sense to change these light bulbs as soon as possible.

Send Paperless Notifications to Parents
Most schools send out notifications and calendars to parents on paper. While this may be convenient for some, most parents are able to access the internet. The school could save time and money while also saving paper if they choose to send notifications via e-mail or post them on the school website instead of constantly passing out handouts.

Promote Recycling in the Classroom
Recycling is a great way to reduce waste. However, many students do not realize the importance of placing recycling products in the recycling bin, especially if there is no recycling bin within the classroom. It is important that each classroom have a trash can and a separate can for recycling products. The teacher will be responsible for putting an emphasis on recycling and making sure his or her students place the appropriate products in the correct bin.

Get Kids Involved in Planting Trees and Gardening
Getting kids involved with planting trees and gardening is basically a hands-on way for the school to go green. The students can plant trees, which help to provide clean air to the environment, along with other plants. The students will be able to have a great time while also enjoying an active learning experience on going green and doing good things for the environment.

Provide Organic Locally Grown Fruits for Kids
Most schools serve fruit with breakfast and lunch for the students. The school could contact a local organic farmer who grows these fruits and is willing to provide them to the students at a low cost. This allows the school to support the local economy while serving students healthy and completely natural fruit.

Find Affordable Gas Companies
If the school is using natural gas to provide energy to the classrooms, it is important that the school has an affordable gas company providing such services. If the school is not sure where to turn to find their gas company of choice, they can check out their options on On this site, the school can find out more about direct energy and spark energy.

In reality, there are many fun tips and strategies that schools can follow to take the green initiative. Going green is good for the environment and it is ideal for schools to make these necessary changes while also influencing their students and their families to do the same in their homes.

Floating Fish Farms

Traditional fish farms have environmental issues because of their ultra-concentration of fish, so now a Hawaiian company has come up with a solution that involves a 22-foot floating “Aquapod” that contains the fish while it floats in open ocean…and the environmental impact is zero!


Northeast Solar Sales Surge Through Home Depot

Stephen Lacey

It was the holy grail of solar. Get solar panels on the shelves of a big-box store like Home Depot where do-it-yourselfers shop for home improvement projects, and the solar industry could tap a whole new class of customers.

Except it didn’t really happen that way — at first.

In 2001, Home Depot started stocking its shelves with panels from AstroPower (a company that eventually became GE Solar after going bankrupt). Then, in 2004, Home Depot partnered with BP Solar to offer solar panels and solar installation through the store’s brand. But without a compelling financial offering, the service didn’t take off in a big way.

Fast-forward to 2010. As BP was on the verge of pulling out of the solar market, a range of new solar service providers started making big gains. Recognizing the potential for offering a better service rather than just a product on its shelves, Home Depot partnered with SolarCity in West Coast stores. SolarCity declined to talk with Greentech Media about the specifics of their business relationship with Home Depot, but CEO Lyndon Rive has been publicly bullish about the offering.

Soon after, Home Depot expanded solar service offerings to the East Coast by partnering with two other fast-growing providers, Sunrun and Clean Power Finance.

The experience of Roof Diagnostics Solar — a leading contractor partnering with Sunrun, Clean Power Finance, and Home Depot on the East Coast — offers a window into how these arrangements are boosting solar sales.

A year and a half ago, Roof Diagnostics participated in a Home Depot pilot program with one other company in fourteen New Jersey stores. It set out a kiosk with a laptop, 40-inch television, and a solar specialist who could do a simple assessment of a home from the store.

The immediate reaction was “explosive,” said Pegler Jr., with 68 sales coming in the first 60 days. A couple weeks later, they were given twenty-one stores. And the company will be offering solar in 100 locations by the end of the year in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts — with most of those kiosks located in the first aisle of the stores.

“Home Depot brings a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “They could put anything in the front of the store, but they’re choosing solar. We had to do it store by store and earn their respect.”

Starting off in New Jersey, the first 40 stores pulled in about $15 million in gross revenue. And new locations have brought in about $1 million in sales per year, said Pegler Jr.

Before setting up shop in Home Depot, Roof Diagnostics was doing 100 sales per month in New Jersey. Now the company is closing 150 sales a month, with 125 of them through the Home Depot process. In 2010, the company had 28 employees; today, it has 265.

“The company has gone from a relatively unknown New Jersey installer to the second largest in the state — just behind Trinity Solar, another Sunrun partner which passed up the opportunity to participate in the Home Depot pilot program,” said Andrew Krulewitz, a solar market analyst at GTM Research. “In other growing markets, such as Massachusetts and New York, this Home Depot relationship will allow Roof Diagnostics to keep pace with the likes of SolarCity and Astrum Solar, another major East Coast player.”

Four out of every ten people who visit the Home Depot kiosk sign up for a solar lease or power purchase agreement with Roof Diagnostics. Pegler Jr. believes it’s a sign that the Northeastern solar market is maturing. Because states like New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts have strong solar programs, consumers generally know about the opportunity. But seeing a kiosk in a Home Depot store can be the difference between someone thinking about solar and actually taking action.

“These markets are getting bigger, but they’re not saturated enough to where a lot of customers will approach you on their own. Sometimes all they needed was that little bit of a nudge,” said Pegler Jr. “That’s tipped the scale for us. This is a story about solar breaking into the mainstream.”

The early experiments in Home Depot stores more than a decade ago didn’t pan out as expected. But new financing tools, quote platforms, and falling installation costs have finally broadened offerings to a new class of customers doing home improvement shopping.

“In mature state markets, such as New Jersey and California, the key to continued growth of the domestic solar industry is moving past early adopters. This Home Depot relationship allows solar providers to do so,” said GTM’s Krulewitz. “Solar providers who seek out these non-traditional sales channels are the ones who will net the most new customers, and as of right now, word of mouth is the best lead generation tool that solar providers have.”


4 Ways to Use Solar Power at Home

Much of our country’s electric grid runs on coal. Even with carbon capture technology, coal is far from clean. As we burn through the world’s coal supply, coal companies resort to more drastic measures to extract it from the ground. A common industry practice, mountaintop removal mining, involves literally blasting the tops off of mountains, which demolishes mountaintops, destroys habitats, and pollutes surrounding waterways.

Even setting aside the environmental impact of coal, energy prices are on the rise. One way to reduce your impact and save some cash at the same time is to use home solar options, so that you’re not drawing as much power from the grid. Of course, not everyone is ready to make the leap and install a full-on solar array, but there are some smaller-scale ways that you can take advantage of solar power. Of course, the amount that you save is going to vary, depending on where you live and how much your energy company charges, but replacing even a small part of your energy consumption with renewable alternatives is going to save you some cash!

1. Solar Water Heater

You can replace your gas or electric water heater with a solar water heater and use the power of the sun to save 50-80% on your water heating bills each month. Generally, your solar water heater will have a backup heating system, so if there isn’t enough sunlight, you’ll still have reliable hot water handy.

Solar water heaters can range from around $1000-$2000, but after rebates from the Federal government and your power company, they shake out to be much more affordable.

Image Credit: EBKauai

2. Solar Oven

About 4% of our home’s energy goes toward cooking, and switching to a solar oven can help you use less energy and save some money. Not only does a solar oven mean spending less on energy to cook food, in summer it also means your air conditioning won’t be competing with the oven to cool the house, so you’ll see even more savings on your energy bill. There are some companies that offer pre-built solar ovens in the $200-$300 range, but the do-it-yourselfers out there might want to try saving even more money by building your own solar oven instead like the one above.

3. Solar Gadget Chargers

The beauty of solar gadget chargers is that you don’t have to install a thing! Solar chargers like the ReVIVE solar charger have ports built in, so you can charge your cell phone, tablet, or other smaller gadgets right out of the box. Since about 7% of an average energy bill goes just toward powering our gadgets, that can add up to a big savings on your monthly power bill! Gadget chargers can vary in price quite a bit, but the ReVIVE costs around $28.

4. Solar Powered Outdoor Lights

Another way to go solar without any installation at all is with solar powered outdoor lights. Lighting accounts for about 11% of your energy bill, so anywhere that you can replace electric lights with solar ones will mean savings at the end of the month. These lights stake into the ground or mount onto the side of your house, and each one has a miniature solar panel to collect the sun’s energy during the day and power the lights when the sun sets. Fall and winter are the best times of year to buy solar lights, since many stores are liquidating their outdoor products. You can get a set of solar lights for as little as $10, if you’re a savvy bargain-hunter. The DIY-oriented, you can even make your own solar lights!


Renewable Energy in 50 Years: 3 Predictions

Humans have the unique talent to imagine the prospective in rich, complete detail. Futurists from past generations foretold a global paradigm shift, buttressed by interconnectivity, digitization, seamless space travel, and policemen equipped with surgically fastened, bat-like wings.

Granted, it’s an imperfect science.

Sometimes we dream up winged peacekeepers, but other times, we prove ourselves precocious. In the world of sustainability, we’re always looking onward and upward to the next big development which will finally strip us of our dependence on coal and oil. While we’re not quite there yet, much of what we’ve predicted for green energy has actually hit somewhere close to the mark. International reliance on dirty energy is subsiding, solar power is becoming less expensive (some say even cheaper than coal) and, in all, renewable energy is becoming more accessible.

So, why not go ahead and take a whack at predicting the status of the energy industry in, say, 40 or 50 years from now? Here’s what our top scientists and field leaders seem to think:

Solar Power will prevail.

According to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power could very well be responsible for over a third of our energy supply by the year 2060. The sun’s rays offer a ductile, easily-to-collect source of energy, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to see solar power leading the pack for renewables. What is a shock, however, is that the notably conservative IEA made the prediction. If they’re predicting over a third, who’s to say we can’t reach a half, or even two thirds in solar contribution?

Europe could spearhead the charge.

Well, really, we’re all a big part of the mix if we expect an international redressing of our energy supply. However, Europe has set its goals as high as or higher than any other country for the next few decades. Under its current agenda, the European Renewable Energy Council has predicted an entirely renewable energy supply for European Union residents by the year 2050 (or earlier). The organization is relying on a culmination of elements, including increased investment, cheaper materials and increased accessibility to renewables for the typical consumer. Sound familiar? Seems doable.

The world will run on 100% sustainable energy by 2050.

Or 95%. Or 80%. It depends on who you ask. The point is, we’re going to be a heck of a lot closer to complete sustainability then than we are now. And that’s something worth celebrating. What all these reports of augmented renewables have in common is their reliance on a smarter, more earth conscious society. If we’re to get anywhere in the next half century, it has to be through our own doing. From the scientists at the tippy top of the production line all the way down to the consumers, it’s our privilege to be stewards for renewable energy.