They recycle paper, plastic and metal and use local potatoes, carrots and lettuce in their cafeteria. Plans are in the works for a school garden and compost pile. And now, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School hopes to become the first net zero, carbon neutral school in the nation.
The charter school this week announced it has received a $40,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s development agency for renewable energy. The grant money will allow the school to conduct a feasibility study on the wind potential at their State Road location in West Tisbury. The study is the first step the school is taking to eliminate fossil fuel use and achieve an annual net zero, carbon neutral footprint by 2010.
“We’ve been working on this for well over a year now,” charter school board president Sam Berlow said. “The charter school is always trying to do things new and different. This came out of environmental responsibility, economic need and educational imperative. We really feel like our kids need to be exposed to these kinds of things and aware that they are important.”
If the result of the study shows the site to be favorable for harnessing wind energy, the school will install a wind turbine on school grounds to generate electricity to power the school. They will also replace their current heating system with heat pumps to heat and cool the building. The result will be a school building which uses no fossil fuels and generates more energy in a year than it consumes.
Before this happens, the school will seek public comment, apply for additional funds from the collaborative and seek private foundation monies.
“I am very excited to have this kind of development going on in my district,” Cape and Islands state Sen. Robert O’Leary said in a press release this week. “Not only will this serve as a great example to the rest of the country, but it will allow the students to be part of a project that will hopefully set the precedent for the way they live their lives into adulthood.”
Several schools in Iowa are currently powered by wind turbines and many schools in the country use heat pumps, but to date, no school has combined the two concepts to become a carbon neutral net zero facility.