PHS Environmental Club
We are a group of students dedicated to advocating for individual and systemic change within the PHS community to protect the environment and fight climate change.
Develop Penfield High School Climate Action Plan
Plan and run Green Week: activities and education for students to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day
Campaign for Community Choice Aggregation or carbon-free electricity for Penfield
PHS Environmental Club
Climate Action Plan
Overview and Suggestions
Penfield has the influence and the reputability to be a leader in the field of sustainability plans. The current projection is that New York will gain 6 degrees farenheit in the average temperature since 1970 by 2050. There will be an increase in algal blooms in the Great lakes among other significant effects on local economies and environments. According to the introduction of the Rochester City Climate Action Plan, “Climate change will have a variety of public health consequences, including heat-related illnesses, allergies, asthma, water and food borne illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and others.” This becomes a child welfare issue very quickly since it threatens the health of children. The best way for PCSD to take action currently is to institute a Climate Action Plan.
Penfield can be a leader in district climate plans and accountability.
Climate Change is already having a distinct affect in monroe county and Western NY
Climate Change as a child welfare issue
Benefits of a Climate Action Plan
Animal products with their high carbon bi-products in schools.
Solar power purchase agreement
Energy efficient appliances and the benefits of them being
Water conservation and improved water related appliances
Transportation related carbon footprints.
Benefits of a Climate Action Plan
A Climate Action Plan or Sustainability Plan is a detailed plan for a city, town, business, or school to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and related climatic impacts. This would commit the district to the goals that the district is already working on with regards to action against the climate crisis and allow them to form other goals with specific and planned steps to reach them. This makes the district accountable for their choices and will develop the relationship of the district with its students since the climate crisis is an important topic to many of the students. Furthermore, this allows the district to better advertise and package the steps they are already taking. Student welfare is also improved since the environmental climate affects the student's welfare.
Potential Steps of Action
Food Related Emissions
Animal products have a distinct carbon consequence. Providing more meat free options in the cafeterias will significantly decrease the carbon footprint of the school. Exploring the possibility of more diverse plant based options in the hot lunch lines or “Meatless Mondays” will aid in this route of emission reduction.
Energy Related Emissions
The source for the districts energy is a major concern since we can make all the necessary changes to reduce energy consumption, a portion of our energy will still be sourced from non-renewable sources and fossil fuels. It is anticipated that the Town of Penfield will pass the enabling law for Community Choice Aggregation in the first quarter of the new year, which will give all properties in Penfield clean and renewable energy through the grid.
Another option is a solar power purchase agreement. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association website, “a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate. This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the developer receives the income from these sales of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system”. A solar power purchase agreement will last for about 10-25 years, during which the developer is responsible for maintenance of the panels. We recognize the district has already looked into this possibility but considerations in the future should be made because of the rapidly changing clean energy market.
The efficiency of energy related appliances (ie. LED lights) has a major cumulative impact on the schools energy consumption. Not only would using energy efficient appliances increase the sustainability of the school, it would also drive down energy costs.
There is also a high carbon footprint associated with student’s transportation to school (For example, driving to school or getting driven). Ideally, all students would take the bus which would decrease traffic, making the school grounds a safer place, and decrease the carbon emissions. Since this is not realistic, maybe a cost could be imposed for parking at the high school/library, or a reward/incentive could be offered for carpooling with friends. Additionally ensuring the right infrastructure is in place for walking and biking is key to encourage those modes of transportation. The district has already done a good job of ensuring crossing guards, crosswalks, and sidewalks are in excellent condition functioning properly.
Water conservation is something not to be taken lightly. The freshwater we have access to here is not reflected across the country, much less the world. Conserving our resources is an important part of the effort to fight climate change. Improving on the schools bathroom facilities is the best place to start in this area. Looking into low water consumption flush toilets would significantly decrease the amount of water the school uses.
Schools must properly educate the students about the climate emergency in order to fully do their duty as educational institutions fighting the climate crisis. An option to spread the word and excitement about PCSD’s actions towards a sustainable future is implementing a “Green Week” at all levels. This could include dress up days, guest speakers, signing letters to elected officials, and modeling sustainable practices.
Ideally, sustainability and climate change would become a curriculum standard, in some shape or form, in all subjects. However, we recognize that because of the common core among other restrictions, this change is unlikely at this time.
Schools for Climate Action
Model School District Climate Action Resolutions
Rochester City Climate Action Plan
Climate Change Food Calculator:
The Carbon Footprint of Food: http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html
Meat Eaters Guide to Health and Climate: http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf
BCSD sustainability plan