A greener school may lead a red balance sheet

October 4, 2010 — by Brandon Judoprasetijo

While the school is struggling to maintain a stable financial status, it is taking admirable strides ahead in trying to become more efficient and greener than in the past. However, in tough financial times, the upgrades must be made wisely.

A major change in the school is the installation of the new smart meters. The meters not only track the school’s power usage and prevent unnecessary use of power, but are also expected to save the school 10 percent of its $800,000 annual electricity bill. Within a year, the savings made by the meters will make up for its $40,000 cost and continue to salvage more money in the future.

In contrast, there are the new water fountains that were installed at the end of last year. The goal was to cut the use of non-reuseable water bottles by offering clean, filtered water. Although the quality of the water has improved, it certainly is not the right time to be paying $13,000 for them. Having fewer water bottles on campus may be helping the earth, but the budget deficit next year should be given priority.

The idea of solar power has also been taken into great consideration by the school. A major part of the school’s energy bill consists of heating the pool, so plans have being made to install solar panels in order to use solar energy as regular heating. Some people have even looked at solar panels installed in parking lots of schools in the Fremont Union district and wondered if the same thing could be done here.

Agreed, solar power is one of the most popular methods of alternative energy, but the main downfall of such technology is the enormous installation cost, which often takes years to pay off. The cost of powering the school through solar power is still unknown, but it is estimated that it will take eight years to make up for the cost. Since we have a budget deficit next year, solar power may be too costly for our school right now.

The school’s decision to go more green has good intentions, but the course of action that it takes is crucial. As things are right now, the school seems to have its attention focused on reducing its carbon footprint, while it should actually be paying more attention to the problems that affect the education that the school provides. With a budget deficit looming large next year, the district must spend every penny wisely; otherwise, we’ll have bigger problems on our hands than global warming.

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