Northeast High School Students Slash Carbon, Win $1,000

In partnership with the National Grid Foundation, an amazing organization that creates opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) hosted the Green Dependence Day Challenge this past fall. Together, we challenged thousands of high school students in select regions across the Northeast to combat climate change.

And at long last, the results are in – and we are thrilled to share them with you today!

First… a little context. To win the Green Dependence Day Challenge in the first place, high school students in New York City, Long Island, Upstate New York, and New England viewed the award-winning ACE Assembly on climate science and solutions. Then, they worked with ACE to take on carbon emissions-reducing projects—anything from implementing recycling programs to conducting energy efficiency retrofits to installing solar panels. Students reported the number and scope of carbon-reducing projects that they completed. The winners in each region would take home $1,000 to implement their next great green ideas.

More than 26 schools across New York and New England competed in the contest and completed projects such as carrying out energy audits, or implementing recycling programs. Out of these entrants, 4 regional winners and 2 runner-ups emerged! Without further delay, here they are:

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

New England Winner: Somerville High School
Somerville has developed a strong classroom recycling program and through their winning project, they will develop a recycling program in their cafeteria as well as other high-use areas of the school such as the gym and the auditorium. The project will involve placing large recycling bins in new areas and an extensive peer education campaign that involves loudspeaker announcements, posters, and incentives. This project will impact the entire school, which has 1,300 students, and it will reach many students who may not be interested in environmental issues otherwise. They will measure their progress by weighing the trash before the project, and again in May 2012. They aim to reduce their trashload by 15% by June 2012.

Upstate New York Winner: Steinmetz Career & Leadership Academy
The Steinmetz Academy’s Action Team is working tirelessly to eliminate environmental pollutants and waste. Their winning project will help reduce and eventually eliminate their school’s use of styrofoam. They will also begin recycling and collecting all paper and cardboard. Last, through this project, they will recycle all cans and bottles produced. They expect that if they are able to eliminate styrofoam, they will reduce their waste by more than 3,600 “lunch trays” per month – a huge savings! Similarly, they estimate they will save more than four 90 gallon containers of paper waste each week.

New York City Winner: Brooklyn International High School
Brooklyn International’s Green Leaders Club will replace two broken water fountains and encourage fellow students to use reusable water bottles. They will also collect plastic water bottles and recycle them. The school will decrease the number of students buying water by approximately 30%, and recycle 50% more plastic water bottles.

Long Island Winner: Mineola High School
Mineola’s Environmental Club collects any kind of bottle cap – water bottle, shampoo, laundry detergent caps – and recycles them. Through their participation in the bottle cap recycling program, they have raised awareness about the importance of recycling and how waste can be ‘up-cycled’ into other goods. Through their winning project, in spring 2012 the Club will bring the bottle cap recycling program to nearby elementary schools. High school students will educate younger students about the importance of recycling. They ultimately aim to make bottle cap recycling – and eco-friendly behavior – a district-wide activity.

RUNNER UPS

New York: St. Ann’s School
This Brooklyn high school will continue to create a self-sustaining green space at their school. Last year, their Action Team acquired donations to transform their small backyard space into a garden/green hangout space for students. This spring, the team seeks to add a rain collection system and compost unit to the garden so that all water and sod needs for the garden will be provided through existing resources. In addition, the high school students will use the garden as a teaching tool, educating younger middle school students about the process of composting and sustainable gardening.

New England: Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School
Abby Kelley’s Environmental Action Club is increasing alternative transportation at their school through the recent purchase of a new bicycle rack. With the grant funds, they will host a concert, dubbed “Rock On, Power Off,” in April to launch their campus bicycle program. The concert’s intermission will feature a bike parade and they will ask the students to decorate their bicycles or skateboards and ride them around the parking lot to the new bicycle rack. The concert will also raised funds to purchase solar powered lights for their school flagpoles.

ACE students offer White House fresh ideas to spur energy efficiency

Shreya Indukuri and Daniela Lapidous, ACE Youth Advisory Board members and juniors at the Harker School in San Jose, CA, paid a visit to the White House yesterday, but they didn’t just go for a tour. Through working with ACE, this energy-smart duo is scaling up their efforts to spur efficient energy use in America’s high schools – and sharing their ideas with America’s leaders.

Yesterday, in front of an invite-only audience of CEOs, White House advisors, and utility industry leaders, Shreya and Daniela shared the story of how they reduced their school’s energy use by 13 percent and founded their own non-profit, SmartPowerEd.

They shared a stage with U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu; Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack; Director of the Office of Science and Technology, John Holdren; and Chairperson of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley.

In their talk, they let our leaders know that young people care about the future and energy use, and that they are ready to get involved with solutions. They closed with two questions for Secretary Chu and others: how are you going to harness the potential of young people? How are you going to prioritize energy education and inspire young people to act?

You can see a video of their talk with White House officials here. More to come from ACE’s Emily Adler, who accompanied Shreya and Daniela to the event. What a day!

Unified Diversity – lessons from PowerShift ’11

By Daniela Lapidous, high school junior at the Harker School in San Jose, CA, and member of ACE Youth Advisory Board

Phew… it’s been a week since one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

You see, from April 15-18, fellow ACE Youth Advisory Board member Shreya Indukuri and I got the chance to attend PowerShift in Washington, D.C. and it was INCREDIBLE!

Basically, it was a gathering of about 10,000 inspiring young people rallying for clean energy action – you can read more about our trip on the blog post Washington D.C.’s awesome regional educator, Daisy, wrote up.

Besides the details of who we met and what we said, I guess one thing I still marvel at when I look back at the experience is the unified diversity we saw there. (Attack of the oxymorons!)

The thousands of college students there came from all walks of life – from all parts of the country – from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We don’t listen to the same music, we don’t all say “hella”, and we probably don’t even have the same definitions of what being completely “green” looks like – but we were all there, being united by the issue of clean energy! Who expected that?

The fact is, everyone should have expected that, because the issue of climate change and clean energy deserve to unify us all.

Shreya and I met people who are being affected by these issues now. We met Cassie, a 17 year-old activist from Southern California who got asthma because of pollution-emitting factories in her city. We met countless people who live next to toxic waste, who have seen extreme weather, and who are seeing pollution destroy their communities. We heard stories of people in Appalachia who are suffering enormously because of mountaintop removal (for the sake of coal mining!).

Climate change and dirty energy are not issues that will “someday” affect our “grandchildren” – they are right here, right now. It’s only a matter of time before they show up on all of our doorsteps and force us to work together, whether we like it or not.

Shreya and Daniela shake hands with Aneesh Chopra and staff

There was also the diversity of people we met outside of PowerShift. We met Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer of the US, and Arun Majumdar, the director of ARPA-E (an innovative energy research department of the government).

Let’s face the facts: Shreya and I are still high school juniors. We are from California, and we do not wear business clothes on a regular basis. We have APs next week and prom in two weeks. We are very different from the high-level executives we were lucky enough to meet.

But hearing about a low-cost, very effective solution to energy efficiency – the smart meters that we are installing at high schools – was positive for everyone! Mr. Chopra and Mr. Majumdar were both impressed that we saved 13% off our school’s energy bill in one year and they want all of the schools in the country to get involved.

No matter how different you are, passion and simple solutions can inspire and connect people – “environmentalists” and “non-environmentalists” alike. When you share your story, people are inspired to craft their own. Continue reading ‘Unified Diversity – lessons from PowerShift ’11′

New student-led program: Students Saving Energy

By Victoria Pan, ACE Field Correspondent and high school student at Ridgewood High School – Ridgewood, NJ. Crossposted from the ACE blog.

My name is Victoria Pan, and I’m a junior at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, NJ. I’m also the co-president of the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) club, and I’m very concerned with environmental issues, especially regarding energy consumption.

One year ago, our school, Ridgewood High School, started the Turn Off the Lights project. It involved students turning off the classroom lights every week, which saved energy and electricity costs while raising awareness about energy conservation at the same time. Now, we’re planning for the installation of a motion-sensor lighting system, as well as other projects to reduce our school’s energy consumption and educate others. Our vision is to make our school more sustainable—and that means enforcing such practices to protect our resources for the future.

I couldn’t help wondering, though, about the even bigger impact we would make if we got a whole network of schools across the nation turning off the lights. If my school alone can save so much energy from such simple idea, imagine the amount of energy that can be saved from thousands of schools!

I knew there were schools just like mine that were trying to deal with the problems of wasting money and resources from unnecessary energy consumption. I wanted to help those schools become more energy-efficient too by connecting with my school, and joining us on the same path toward that goal.

The Students for Environmental Action club is introducing a new, exciting initiative to other high schools across the nation, called Students Saving Energy. The goal is simple: to help schools become more energy-efficient. Keep reading for how you can help…

Our vision is to create a network of schools joined by the same goals for becoming more sustainable. With this collaboration, we can work together to spread a powerful message across the nation about our efforts to achieve sustainability.

We’re reaching out to as many schools as we possibly can to gather participation, and we feel that one of the best ways to do so is through community involvement. Imagine if schools across the nation started implementing similar processes. Imagine the amount of money we would save, the awareness we would raise in our communities, if we all worked together to make our schools more sustainable. We hope high schools like ours to join the Students Saving Energy network today to become part of the growing student-led movement to take energy-saving initiatives in our own schools!

Joining this network is very simple. You don’t necessarily have to be involved with your environmental club, or even have one for that matter (We could help you start one though!) All that is required is the passion and the motivation for change. If you want to make a difference in your school, then you’ve come to the right people.

All you have to do is submit a Sustainability Pledge for your school. When do you, we will contact you right away to give you the necessary resources to start a hands-on energy project!

A Sustainability Pledge is an action a school is taking or a goal it wants to take to reduce its energy consumption, whether it is through turning off the lights every week, installing motion sensored lights, doing an energy audit, or getting solar panels.

So far, 11 schools are SSE members and are working to reduce their energy consumption. Some have actually started the Turn Off the Lights project. Others already have made progress with efficient systems and are working toward even more improvements. In the future, we hope to see all schools in the nation follow the same goals to achieve sustainability.

We’re aiming for 100 pledges by the end of 2011. But in order to reach that goal, we need YOUR effort. Achieving these steps will prove that students can make a difference to achieve a greener earth. You see, the power lies in the numbers. If all students work together, a lasting impact will be created.

Visit our website for more information: www.studentssavingenergy.org

World premiere: green cribs – holiday edition

Just in time for Cyber Monday and the beginning of the climate talks in Cancun, we’re releasing the world premiere of Green Cribs – holiday edition:

Santa is on a quest to green up the neighborhood before he needs to start using a rowboat instead of a sleigh.

Watch the video to learn two simple ways to help keep Santa’s northern habitat from turning into Cancun.

Will Santa green YOUR crib? If the answer is yes, share it on Facebook!

Happy holidays. – click below to see the video!

Continue reading ‘World premiere: green cribs – holiday edition’

Smog free LA!? Make it happen on 10/10/10

By Kristina von Hoffmann, ACE Educator in Los Angeles

Ever thought about how fun it would be to ride your bike down LA’s historic streets, without any traffic getting in your way? I mean no cars, no honking buses, no exhaust… sounds like a dream, right?

Well, in conjunction with 350.org’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party, that dream is coming true! CicLAvia is blocking off 7 ½ miles of LA’s streets on Sunday, October 10th from 10 am to 3 pm – with an awesome rally at 12:30 pm on the route!

The event, which began in response to congestion and pollution in Bogotá, Colombia (sounds familiar, right?), will give you and your pals the chance to explore our city’s parks, churches, public art, and more, smog-free! Check out the 10 neighborhoods on the CicLAvia path here.

And while you’re biking around, why not swing by the Greenpeace and Sierra Club-sponsored Rally to Kick Coal and Oil Out of LA? Ethan, Sophie, and I will be there, holding it down for ACE. This rally will be taking place on the South Lawn at City Hall from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. – conveniently located right on the CicLAvia route!

Did we mention that Inception and Juno actress Ellen Page will be at the rally!? She will and… Continue reading ‘Smog free LA!? Make it happen on 10/10/10′

French fries give us gas

After spending a few weeks on the road with The Bluebird, Alliance for Climate Education‘s Connect the DOTs Biobus Tour team – Ethan “Superman” Burke and Michael “Dude with the DOTs” LaFemina has become a well oiled machine, literally!

Last Thursday, stomachs a-rumbling, they grabbed some fried plantains and Central American pastries in South L.A., while also feeding the bus a little good morning grease. The breakfast was a success: they were full AND got enough grease to drive to San Francisco. See how they power the bus with fry grease:

The biobus began its journey through California on July 17th and its fearless crew has wound through San Diego and Los Angeles, throwing solar-powered concerts on the bus roof with bands like The Wiley One and day-long events at places like the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.

They are now getting back on the road, zooming north at nearly 55 mph (whoa slow down!), to close out the tour in San Francisco later this week.

This Saturday, August 7th, we’re throwing a day-long climate shindig outside of the ever-awesome California Academy of the Sciences. Seasunz will be performing from his new album Earth Amplified at 4pm and we’ll host tours of The Bluebird in between performances of our interactive climate Assembly. If you live in the Bay Area, we hope you’ll come out to see us and choose your DOT, your Do One Thing!

ACE biobus tour: solar-powered concerts + more!

By Michael LaFemina, Alliance for Climate Education’s dude with the DOTs. Crossposted from the ACE blog.

Between Ethan and me, we’d slept around 20 hours in 4 days to prepare for our bus tour in California… not enough by a long shot, but the adrenaline was pumping because we were about to launch the Connect the DOTs Biobus Tour! That’s right, we’re hitting the road on a 3-week guilt-free road trip on a former school bus converted to run on recycled veggie oil to inspire people to choose their DOTthat’s their Do One Thing to cool the climate.

For those of you who may remember, Ethan Burke – our Bluebird Captain – is no stranger to the veggie-oil-powered adventures. He’s a co-founder of Biotour, a big inspiration to what we’re doing on the Connect the DOTs tour.

Our first event went down this weekend and supported two local organizations in Venice, California. It was a beautiful way to kick off the tour. After a full 1 and a half hour “sleep,” we headed to Venice Beach to support Heal the Bay‘s beach clean up.

While we were getting our hands dirty, a camera crew from NBC Los Angeles filmed us and did a spotlight on the bus in action. Continue reading ‘ACE biobus tour: solar-powered concerts + more!’

Climate science investigators

School may be out, but over at ACE, we are searching for some answers! This summer, we hired a detective to investigate pressing climate questions.

Follow ACE’s Detective Meadows as he answers an urgent climate conundrum: Is the warming that we’re seeing natural or not?!

Stay tuned as Inspector Thorough gets on the trail next week! I

If you have a question for Detective Meadows, email him at: detective.meadows@climateeducation.org — you may just end up in our next video!

Summer Solstice: is your Earth Amplified?

Cross posted from the ACE Blog

Just in time for the longest day of the year – this glorious summer solstice – EARTH AMPLIFIED, the new full-length album by ACE Educator AshEl Seasunz + J. Bless is out now and AVAILABLE HERE!

This seminal Green Hip Hop album features lyrics that touch on many of the environmental and socio-political issues of the day, covering topics from food and water security, climate change, poverty and prisons, to the potential for social transformation.

Lead by Oakland-based frontman Seasunz and produced by Brooklyn-based J.Bless and multi-instrumentalist Golden Horns, the organic sound of Earth Amplified’s heavy, layered beats blend influences ranging from afrobeat, dancehall, funk and old school soul with the jazz vibes of Golden Era Hip Hop.

“This is music for our movement. Seasunz and J.Bless are putting the culture back in agriculture.”

- Van Jones, Co-Founder of Ella Baker Center, Founder, Green For All, Former White House Advisor on Green Jobs

ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW, CLICK HERE!


Alisha Fowler


Alisha is an Educator with Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), a national nonprofit based in Oakland, CA. ACE educates, inspires and activates high school students to help stop global warming. A native of Philly, Alisha graduated from Hamilton College in 2006 with a B.A. in Geoscience and Environmental Studies. Alisha has also worked with MASSPIRG, NWF and the Breakthrough Institute.

Community Picks