58 YES! students from Sleepy Eye, Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (GFW) and Mankato West gathered in Mankato on February 6th to learn about green building and energy reduction. These teams have each been focusing on different energy-reduction projects in their schools and communities this year.
The students started off the day by checking out the energy-monitoring system that the Mankato West YES! team installed last year. In order to better understand what this energy meter is measuring, they had to put their heads and hands to use with some fun, hands-on activities demonstrating the physics of energy. Once they had a better understanding of what energy monitoring is all about, Eric Lennartson of Paulsen Architects led a discussion on what LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is and how to achieve energy efficiency through standards. Lennartson taught the students about various buildings in the Mankato area that have received LEED certification, including the Blue Earth County Justice Center, the Riverside Regional Pet Shelter and Rosa Parks Elementary School. He touched on several commonly known energy-efficiency elements of these buildings, such as solar panels, as well as a few products that are lesser-known, including dual-flush toilets.
Next the students visited Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter to hear from Dr. Chuck Neiderriter and Dr. Jim Dontje as they discussed measuring energy usage and using alternative energy sources. They first demonstrated some renewable energy technologies and explained the importance of energy efficiency and energy reduction. They then took the students on a tour of several of the campus buildings to show off various energy-efficient equipment and designs. This included a trip up to the roof of one of the building to check out their solar panels!
The students then returned to Mankato to tour Rosa Parks Elementary School, a LEED Gold certified school. While at Rosa Parks Elementary, they heard from Greg Milbrath, Director of Building and Grounds for the Mankato Schools and Greg Borchert of Paulsen Architects, Construction Administrator and Project Manager for the building of Rosa Parks Elementary. The students learned all about what goes into the plans to build a school as well as some of the cool features that can make a school more energy-efficient, such as CO2 sensors that can tell when a room is unoccupied and will turn off the lights.
The students learned a lot throughout the day and left feeling energized and excited to tackle energy-related projects in their schools and communities!