An innovative program that takes energy efficiency and renewable energy
projects into Michigan schools is expanding, offering 90 new schools a
share of $4.4 million.Energy Works Michigan
, an arm of the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center
awarded its first round of $3.5 million in Michigan Renewable Schools
grants in November 2009 and will distribute the next round in September
to schools that are selected as good candidates to undergo energy
efficiency audits and implement new energy programs. The next round will
include colleges and universities, in addition to K-12 schools.
use the money to cut energy costs, install solar and wind
energy-generating systems, and to implement energy efficiency and
renewable energy studies in the classroom. The outcome is not only
energy savings but a decrease in emissions into the environment as well
as educated students who ideally will change their energy consumption
The Michigan Public Service Commission
provides the money for what is seen as "a pretty unique program…There's
not another organization doing this on a such a large scale," says
Kendal Kuneman, project associate for Energy Works Michigan.
Works Michigan administers the program that has its employees showing
schools how to be more energy efficient, how to install solar panels or
wind turbines and training teachers in renewable energy and energy
Currently 67 schools, including Allen Park
Middle School, the Advanced Technology Academy in Dearborn, Pierce
Middle School in Grosse Pointe Park, the South Lyon School District, and
several Detroit Public Schools, including Cass Tech High School, are participating.
of the projects are currently being wrapped up. Most are completed by
now," Kuneman says. Experience from those projects will be used to make
the next phase of the project even more effective, she says.
grants help pay to send engineers into schools to identify energy waste
and show the schools how to correct it. Once a school is deemed energy
efficient, it can choose to install a small, medium, or large solar or
wind energy generating system.
The schools provide matching money to their grants.
prioritize how to get a return on investment in 5-8 years," Kuneman
says. "So schools are seeing some significant cost savings. Some are
getting return in less than five years."Source: Kendal Kuneman, project associate, Energy Works Michigan
Writer: Kim North Shine