Did You Know
Solar radiation, which is nearly constant outside the Earth's atmosphere, varies with changing atmospheric conditions (clouds and dust) and the changing position of the Earth relative to the sun. Nevertheless, almost all U.S. regions have useful solar resources that can be accessed.
There are two types of solar energy systems:
1. Solar thermal devices use direct heat from the sun, concentrating it in some manner to heat water to useful temperature. Currently, solar thermal devices do everything from heating swimming pools to creating steam for electricity generation.
2. Photovoltaic (PV) devices use semiconducting materials to convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV systems power small devices, homes, businesses, college campuses, and School District 11 campuses. (Source: US Energy Information Administration).
CSSD 11 utilizes photovoltaic devices to supply energy for ten (10) different District campuses. On the roof of these various campuses, there is a solar array photovoltaic system that provides a small portion of the electricity needs for each campus.
Geothermal energy is heat from within the Earth. The steam and hot water produced inside the Earth can be used to heat buildings or generate electricity. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source because the water is replenished by rainfall and the heat is continuously produced inside the Earth. Some applications of geothermal energy use the Earth’s temperatures near the surface, while others require drilling miles into the Earth. The three main uses of geothermal energy are:
1) Direct Use and District Heating Systems which use the hot water from springs or reservoirs near the surface.
2) Electricity generation in a power plant requires water or steam at very high temperature (300 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit). Geothermal power plants are generally built where geothermal reservoirs are located within a mile or two of the surface.
3) Geothermal heat pumps use stable ground or water temperatures near the Earth’s surface to control building temperatures above ground. (Source: US Energy Information Administration)
Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up about 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Benefits of Composting
- Enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
- Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
Why Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?
The most effective way to minimize your environmental impact is to reduce consumption of resources. There are no emissions, pollutants or waste associated with what is never created.
The next best thing to do is to reuse materials. Sure, resources and energy were used to make that item when it was new, but not when it's used for its second (or more) life.
Recycling turns what might be thought of as waste into a raw material and conserves natural resources, such as trees and minerals.
Another type of recycling is composting, where green waste, food scraps, food contaminated paper and other compostable materials are turned back into soil. Composting reduces the methane emissions associated with rotting organic material in landfills. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas associated with global warming.
Energy-Saving Tips for Teachers
> Turn off all lights when you are the last to leave a room.
> Set computers and printers to their energy saving mode and turn them off when not in use.
> Encourage your school and district to always purchase energyefficient, ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment and appliances. www.energystar.gov.
> Watch for leaking faucets—both water and energy are wasted.
> Provide lessons and activities on energy efficiency and conservation.
> Organize a classroom or school recycling program.
> Select student energy monitors for your classroom who will make sure that energy is used wisely and efficiently.