Source: Earth Day Network
Earth Day Network in partnership with The UPS Foundation, today unveiled the first large-scale biodiesel production facility at a school in the region, as the centerpiece of Newton North High School’s showcase Biodiesel Production and Education Program.
The facility and program began through the initiative of Newton North teachers Matt Anderson and Steve Chinosi, who both belong to Earth Day Network’s 30,000-member Educators’ Network. Years ago, Anderson and Chinosi established the “Greengineering” Club of nearly two dozen students that not only produces biodiesel, but has also created reusable shopping bags out of recycled plastic ones. The “greengineers” serve as ambassadors, engaging the rest of the student population and community in raising environmental awareness.
The new facility, purchased with a The UPS Foundation grant, has the capacity to produce 40 gallons of biodiesel fuel per week. Students harvest waste vegetable oil – a necessary building block of biodiesel – from the school’s cafeteria, thereby reducing the school’s waste and the associated cost of removal. Initially, the final product will supply clean fuel to several diesel engine-driving teachers, with the intention of broadening the fuel’s usage throughout the community.
Recognizing the benefit of biodiesel education and production for schools nationwide, Earth Day Network and The UPS Foundation are also funding a new biodiesel learning facility and lab at the Secondary Academy for Success High School in Bothell, WA, outside of Seattle. This lab will launch production in the next few weeks.
To help further expand opportunities for American high school students to produce cleaner fuels, Earth Day Network is launching an initiative to establish May 17 as National Biodiesel Education Day. Says Green Schools Coordinator, Joshua Volinsky, “Biodiesel is not just a cleaner, healthier alternative fuel. It is also a stepping stone towards empowering students with the tools necessary to make a difference in their own lives and the health of the planet.” Volinsky noted that the use of biodiesel can reduce particle emissions from school buses by up to 40%, eliminating a particularly harmful pollutant to the still-developing lungs of young people. “Our nation’s school buses travel over 5 billion miles per year; imagine the health benefits if just a small fraction of these schools were to switch over to biodiesel. It is our hope that a day dedicated to biodiesel education will inspire such change,” Volinsky said.
To complement the two projects, Earth Day Network’s Education Team, in partnership with the Clean Air Campaign, is adding a new curriculum on Transportation Sustainability to its respected, wide-ranging environmental curricula. It will also host an introductory webinar on biodiesel for teachers nationwide in the week following the event in Newton. Sean S. Miller, Earth Day Network’s Education Director, says: “Incorporating experiential lessons about sustainable methods of transportation is a necessary step towards building a cleaner, green economy. The students who are learning and experimenting now with these tools represent the next wave of innovators and entrepreneurs in American society, and we are proud to support the teachers and communities helping to make this change possible.”
Earth Day Network – in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and generously supported by The UPS Foundation – has committed to green America’s schools within a generation and believes that expanding hands-on learning opportunities for students is fundamental to achieving this goal. “UPS works with partners like Earth Day Network to set aggressive goals to reduce carbon emissions, promote energy conservation, invest in alternative fuels and technology and leverage technology to reduce miles driven around the world,” said The UPS Foundation President Ken Sternad. “Projects like these take an important step in testing innovative ideas and bring conservation efforts home to local communities.”