Investing in education and our local schools is our bread and butter. Teachers, support staff, administrators, and school board members strive daily to bring students an environment that supports exploration, creativity, safety, and collaboration.
Whether investing in expanded programming, extracurricular activities, or clean, green buildings, Lamoille North looks for all opportunities to improve the long-term sustainability of our school community.
Invest in our Planet is the theme of this year’s global event, Earth Day 2023. While the movement is celebrated each year on April 22nd, the efforts of environmental groups across the planet happen 365. This work includes efforts to increase the adoption and use of electric vehicles to reduce our need for fossil fuels, regrow forests across the globe, and closer to home it's reducing our reliance on and use of landfills with the passage of Act 148 - Vermont’s Universal Recycling law.
The point is, while major climate and environmental milestones are being reached across the globe, every action to protect the environment is important. It’s why LNSU has taken steps to become more clean, green, and environmentally conscious.
Building for Tomorrow
It’s no secret that school facilities across Vermont are old. The average age of a Vermont school building is 61 years, with most going more than 22 years without a major renovation. Thanks to our dedicated Facilities Team and supportive community members, Lamoille North has been able to invest in our buildings across the district.
Hyde Park Elementary School recently saw a $9.8 million renovation thanks to community support. Upgrades to the building have not only created a space beaming with inspiration and energy for students and staff, but the renovated portion of the building now exceeds commercial energy codes thanks to triple-pane windows, LED lighting, and improved insulation throughout.
Similarly, the addition at Eden Central School dubbed the ‘Annex’, has been built to strict 2022 energy codes. The Annex brings much-needed space to support Special Education, intervention services, and now houses the school's first dedicated classroom space for art and music. The Annex also features the district’s first 3-season outdoor classroom space - further reducing the reliance on heating and cooling on beautiful spring, summer, and fall days.
Merging Old with New
As those technologies have improved allowing schools to further reduce emissions and electricity use, Lamoille North has adopted cost-saving measures across all buildings. The Lamoille Union Campus (Lamoille Union High School, Lamoille Union Middle School, Green Mountain Technology & Career Center) net meters with Green Lantern Solar to supply roughly 10% of the campus’ power with solar energy. Some of that energy comes from 20 solar panels placed on campus buildings, and another nearly 26 panels located on LNSU’s Cricket Hill property.
Sticking with the sun, all of the campus buildings utilize a practice called ‘daylight harvesting’. It’s an energy management technique that reduces overhead lighting by gauging ambient light present in a space. Artificial lights are dampened or switched off when sufficient ambient light is let in through windows or skylights.
Furthermore, the Lamoille Union campus attained a ‘Gold Standard’ Energy Star status in 2014 for the energy efficiency upgrades made to its buildings.
Across the district, motion sensors have been installed to switch off lights in a classroom or space when there is no movement after a specific amount of time. Similarly, the district is on track to have all lighting switched to LED’s by 2026.
For Lamoille Union High School, Green Mountain Tech, and Johnson Elementary, renewable biomass is the main heating source for those buildings which has helped to significantly reduce their carbon footprints. How does biomass work? First, plants absorb energy from the sun, then convert it to chemical energy during photosynthesis. When those plant or woody materials are burned, that energy is released as heat.
And all of these upgrades and building enhancements are tied into a state-of-the-art building management system that allows our Facilities Department to see information in real-time and to make campus or building-wide adjustments from the click of a button. These systems have helped Lamoille North to cut heating and ventilation costs.
Clean & Green
When it comes to our green spaces and food programs, Lamoille North is an active member of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, including the composting of food scraps. In fact, several Lamoille North schools have partnered directly with local farms including Black Dirt Farm to send our food scraps to be utilized in different ways. This partnership helps to keep food waste out of local landfills, provides feed for Black Dirt Farm’s chickens, and our scraps eventually become a part of their clean compost. It's a partnership that's good for the planet. In fact, food waste accounts for about 20% of all trash in Vermont.
Likewise, our School Nutrition Department and Farm to School program looks for opportunities to grow partnerships with local farms for produce, dairy, meats, and more - helping to avoid food needing to be transported over long distances. And many of our schools get students involved with school gardens, helping to support our school meals. Our schools also source foods straight from students enrolled at Green Mountain Tech - maple syrup from the Forestry Program, and veggies from Sustainable Agriculture - to name a few.
Lamoille North has also committed to being a pesticide and herbicide-free school district, keeping caustic chemicals out of our soils and local waterways. And LNSU is a strict administrator of Vermont's Act 68, which requires the use of safe cleaning products inside buildings.
Keeping Water Where it Needs to Be
It's not hard to guess that lots of concrete, asphalt, and other non-porous materials are needed to build a school and its parking lots. The problem is when it rains or snow melts, those surfaces move water that is potentially carrying pollutants. It’s why schools across the district have integrated stormwater management areas to bring that potentially ‘untreated’ water back into the soil where it can be naturally filtered before ever hitting a local waterway.
At Cambridge Elementary, for example, a robust stormwater management area hugs the main parking lot to allow water to filter through the soil before ever reaching the nearby Brewster River. Gutters and stormwater drain pipes capture the water and direct it towards an ‘infiltration basin’ which helps the runoff slowly be absorbed into the ground.
Stormwater management helps to support healthy streams and rivers, reduces flooding to protect people and property, and reduces the demand on public drainage systems.
When It All Comes Together
For Lamoille North, every day truly is Earth Day. We’re committed to continually improving our facilities and our practices. Again, we’re in the business of helping to create and inspire the next generation of great leaders. When it comes to protecting our environment, why not set the tone for those future decision-makers?