To run a successful school, administrators must juggle a daunting list of goals aimed at providing high-quality education while maintaining financial stability. For many schools, energy efficiency and protecting the environment never even make it to the list.
A student points out the amount of waste reduced thanks to the water-bottle filling station.
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS), located in Georgia, is a shining exception. In this high-performing public charter school, school leaders decided to make energy efficiency a priority as they renovated the campus in 2012.
ANCS has an outstanding record of providing great education for its diverse students, repeatedly receiving recognition as a Title I “Distinguished School.” Last year, ANCS was named Georgia’s 2015 Charter School of the Year.
While building a superb learning environment, ANCS also wanted to create a green physical environment with greater energy efficiency. As a Self-Help borrower, ANCS knew that we have experience in green development. When refinancing their Self-Help loan, ANCS turned to us for advice. We introduced ANCS to Southface, a nonprofit that specializes in green building and sustainable development.
Southface conducted an energy assessment and made a number of recommendations that ANCS adopted. Major investments included switching to an efficient LED lighting system that automatically adjusts classroom lighting and installing a high-efficiency HVAC system. A smaller improvement, but popular with users, is a new water-bottle filling station that reduces waste and encourages students to drink more water.
Thanks to these improvements, the school earned an Energy Star Certification in 2015 from the US Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, the school received an Energy Star score of 99, way above the 75 required for eligibility. ANCS also was named a National Green Ribbon winner by the US Department of Education.
ANCS’ green renovation hasn’t just saved energy; it also saved money. To date, savings from the project total over $20,000. This is a success story for energy efficiency, and a model for public charter schools across the nation.
Why does Self-Help care about creating a greener world? Our Sustainability Director, Melissa Malkin-Weber, gives her perspective and describes our work in an article published by Green Money Journal.