SEED Program Grows High School Sustainability Initiatives, Enhances Community Energy Efficiency

Grace Chin Speaking

This year in New England, ACE partnered with Next Step Living (NSL) to train students how to talk about climate change and the importance of energy efficiency through the SEED Program - that stands for Sustainable Energy Education Drive. Students recruited community members to take advantage of the state’s free energy assessments and energy upgrades, provided by NSL.

Through this partnership, ACE educated 2,700 students with the ACE Assembly and trained 30 to take the lead on the NSL energy project. Students like Grace Chin of Lincoln Sudbury-High School mobilized 134 home energy assessments, saved families an estimated $13,500 and yielded a greenhouse gas reduction equivalent to 97 metric tons of CO2.

Check out this great story by our partners at NSL about Lincoln-Sudbury’s success:

Lincoln-Sudbury School Cuts Residents’ Bills, Drives Sustainability on Campus

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School kicked off its SEED program with a powerful all-school presentation by Alliance for Climate Education. The ACE Assembly was a natural lead-in for recruiting students to the SEED program, which promotes greenhouse-gas-reducing efficiency upgrades in their community.

"Next Step Living has done a huge amount to make sure SEED events are successful,” says Daniel Lewis, advisor to the student environmental group. “They’ve made it easy for us to participate, and they’ve shared a lot of their knowledge with students.”

Lincoln-Sudbury has been creative in finding opportunities to reach out to particular populations within the town, including the students’ own parents. “Last spring we had a college fair here on a Saturday, with 50 colleges tabling, and our SEED students spoke with parents about getting a home energy assessment,” says Eleanor Burke, assistant principal.

“A lot of our kids left that day smiling,” Burke adds. “The event nudged them out of their comfort zone and they left feeling they had done something important.” Students who attended events also received credit towards community service requirements.

So far the SEED program at Lincoln-Sudbury has raised $1,845 for water-bottle filling stations at the school, a helpful step toward decreasing the number of plastic water bottles on campus. The students were able to choose what initiative funds raised would go toward, fostering a sense of ownership among the young community. In addition to the fundraising, student volunteers signed up community residents for 92 home energy assessments, 13 evaluations of heating and cooling systems, and even 12 assessments for rooftop solar power systems. Lincoln-Sudbury is also renewing its program, with plans for expanding it to include other environmental initiatives, for 2015.

Altogether these actions have saved Lincoln-Sudbury families an estimated $22,246 on their annual utility bills and reduced the community's carbon footprint by 70 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 14 cars off the road for a year.

Burke and Lewis even had assessments performed on their own homes. Says Lewis: “My experience has been really positive.” Lewis’ home energy assessment, through the school’s SEED program, recommended wall insulation, and he had Next Step Living do the work. The result? A warm feeling at home, and at school.