Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recycle your Holidays

The District Service Center at 4540 Tower St. SE in Prior Lake is an official drop-off location for your old and broken holiday light strands. You can drop off lights in the lobby 8:00am - 4:00pm weekdays or send from any school in the district via the in-district mail to the DSC.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM), in partnership with the Clean Energy Resource Teams, started this first-of-its-kind effort in the country back in 2009. This program employs over 200 individuals with developmental disabilities at vocational centers throughout the state of Minnesota. Every bulb of the light strand is dismantled by vocational center clients and then properly recycled in Minnesota. Every part of the strand is recycled, even the little lights are recycled by another project partner, Green Lights Recycling.
Over the past two years, Recycle Your Holidays™ has saved 2.7 million kWh with 280,000 lbs of lights recycled because recycling is more efficient than creating new metal from scratch. This amounts to a bit over $200,000 in avoided energy costs!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Light Calculator

If you are wondering how the more energy efficient LED light strands compare to the traditional higher wattage bulb strands, click here to go to a really cool calculator for various types of holiday lighting. Just select how many strands of the type of bulb, select how many hours they will be illuminated and it will tell you the cost per day and for a month.

This calculator is based on an average electric rate of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour so actual costs for you may vary based upon your local electrical provider's rates. However it does give you a rough idea of the differences between 100 count LED strands, 100 count mini strands and the larger 25 bulb strands. It is a helpful tool if you want to start making the change over to more energy efficient holiday lights and would like to figure out your savings and pay back time frame. Also, you can compare the cost of LEDs lit for a couple of hours versus leaving them lit all night so check it out and have fun calculating!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sending a Message

When you hear "green stamps" an image from days gone by may come to mind when these were collected, moistened and saved up in little booklets for redemption. Today the U.S. Postal Service is offering a different kind of green stamp with the "Go Green" forever stamps now available at your local post office. When addressing your holiday cards this December, why not consider using these on the outgoing envelopes to send out a green message along with your season's greetings?

Green Lesson Plans

Renewable energy =  infinite power!

Click here for the link to a website with some great lesson plans about renewable resources.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wishing everyone in Savage,
Prior Lake and beyond ~
a Groovy and efficient Thanksgiving!

Click here for some energy saving tips for Thanksgiving from Green Living Ideas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Field Trip

Last week a group of staff and students toured the new Organic Recycling facility owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). The 25 acre site just became operational this fall and our school district waste hauler, Dick's Sanitation, has partnered with the SMSC so all of our organic waste materials are now brought there rather than being deposited into a landfill.

Organic recyclable materials include brush, wood, sawdust, grass, leaves, food waste, produce, paper waste (such as tissues and paper towels) essentially anything that has been been alive at some point so glass, metals, plastics, rocks and minerals are not accepted. The process for turning the organic waste into compost takes approximately 12 weeks so the students were able to see the end result of their organic waste from the first week of week of school back in September.

The name says it all.

Temperatures in compost reach over 130 degrees.

So why compost? Well, there are several great environmental benefits:
  • Less greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduction of waste volume by at least half
  • Pathogens and weed seeds are eliminated from waste by the prolonged high temperatures
  • Amends tired and eroded soil improving soil structure, increasing soil's water-holding capacity
  • Conditions the soil reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy America Recycles Day!

Since 1997 our country has celebrated America Recycles Day and that day is TODAY!  This is the only day dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States. Click here to go to a link for information on this day of recognition for recycling. Click here to go to Earth 911 and more information specifically about today. Lastly, click here to go to the Presidential Proclamation for America Recycles Day 2011.
Have YOU recycled something today?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seal the leaks!

If you have a leaky window, you might as well leave it open three inches during the cold weather months. A crack as small as 1/16th of an inch around a window frame can let in as much cold air as leaving the window open three inches!

Here are a couple of ways to detect air leaks:
  • At night, shine a flashlight over the suspected gaps while someone else observes from outside. It also needs to be dark inside and large cracks will then show up as beams of light. This method is not the best option for finding small cracks.
  • Shut a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you are losing energy.
Besides windows and doors, here are a few other places to check for air leaks:
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Cable or satellite TV and phone lines
  • Dryer vents
  • Air conditioners
  • Exhaust fans

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Today's Energy Thought

    Which country has the highest rate of carbon emissions in the world with close to 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide gas released every year?

    A)  China

    B)  Russia

    C)  Canada

    D)  United States

    Scroll down to check your answer...

    According to National Geographic, with more than 80 tons annually per household, the United States releases the most CO2 emissions into the atmosphere of any other country in the world. To put it into perspective, one pound of CO2 would fill a balloon about 2 1/2 feet wide so in one year, an average American family of 4 would fill 160,000 of these balloons, enough to fill a building 27 stories tall and 100 feet square.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Today's Energy Thought

    The energy saved from recycling just one glass bottle is enough to light a 100 watt light bulb for:

    A)  4 minutes

    B)  40 minutes

    C)  4 hours

    D)  14 hours

    Scroll down to check your answer...

    And the correct answer is C)  4 hours.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    the five Rs

    Recently spotted on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse was not your typical environmental awareness poster. This campaign went beyond the well known three Rs:  Reduce  Reuse  Recycle. Also included were two additional appropriate words when it comes to being good environmental and energy stewards, Re-buy and Rethink. So remember the five Rs...


    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Field Trip

    Earlier this week a group from Class 5 Energy and Schools for Energy Efficiency toured the Andersen Windows company headquartered in Bayport, Minnesota. Cameras were not allowed inside so you will have to settle for a narrative account about this energy adventure.

    The first thing I noticed when we stepped out into the plant on our tour was a couple of bicycles parked near the door. The bikes are used by associates to travel within the operations facility rather than using electric golf carts. Bikes were seen all over in various locations throughout the massive plant. What a great way to save energy when you have so much area to cover inside this huge facility.

    Also evident on the tour was Andersen's commitment to high sustainability standards and environmental stewardship. Especially impressive is a patented composite product called Fibrex which Andersen manufactures from reclaimed wood fiber, a direct byproduct created in their own facilities. In addition, they are continually working to minimize their waste output, conserve energy and natural resources, and it is something they have been practicing at Andersen for over 100 years.

    To read more about Andersen's environmental commitment and sustainability efforts, click here to go to their blog, in our nature.

    To learn more about the fascinating Minnesota history behind the Andersen Lumber company, click here for a link to their website and then click on the About Andersen tab for the different informational links.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Today's Energy Thought

    How many gallons of gasoline are refined from one 42 gallon barrel of crude oil?

    A)  9      B)  19      C)  29      D)  42

    Scroll down to check your answer...

    One 42 gallon barrel of crude oil, when refined, produces about 19 gallons of gasoline, 10 gallons of diesel fuel and 15 gallons of other petroleum products.
    So how can one 42-gallon barrel of crude oil yield over 44 gallons of petroleum products you ask? This gain from processing crude oil is similar to what happens to popcorn, which expands or gets bigger after it's popped. When refined, crude oil increases its yield to be more than the original quantity. Who knew?