JACKSON WY — Teton Conservation District and Energy Conservation Works presented a large, game-show style check for the amount of $10,000 to Teton County School district Wednesday night in support of the new Munger Mountain Elementary School’s energy reduction efforts.
It’s quite the visual, and also sends a clear message, said Phil Cameron, executive director of Energy Conservation Works (ECW).
“I think the energy component speaks for itself — it’s a good project,” Cameron said. “It makes sense, it’s viable.” But the more exciting message is the one it sends to students.
“For them to understand the educational value of renewable energy in their education,” he said, is a pretty big deal.
The project in question is an installation of solar panels at the new Munger Mountain Elementary School — enough to offset almost a dozen homes, Cameron said, and perhaps the biggest in the state.
ECW has been involved with the Munger design team, contractors and architects practically since the beginning, offering energy efficient solutions and supporting efforts to reduce emissions wherever possible. They were also able to secure funding from Teton County and Teton Conservation District — ECW and Teton Conservation District have a long-standing partnership, and the Conservation District approved funding to help support the project.
“Pursuing renewable sources of energy locally represents a responsible effort to address the power we consume in our community, and serves as an example for the next generation,” said Teton Conservation District Board President Tom Segerstrom.
From the school district’s perspective, the project is fiscally responsible, said TSCD Information Coordinator Charlotte Reynolds. Now, money that might have been used for energy costs and building operations can instead go directly into student education.
But Reynolds also echoed the education value such a project offers students. For one, she said, it “sets the groundwork for talking to kids about sustainability and conservation.” It also offers practical lessons in engineering and systems and cool science things.
“The school has only been open for a few short months, but using this as an educational opportunity for kids will be a great resource,” Reynolds said.
Cameron emphasized that ECW didn’t do this alone. “I love talking about all the. different layers and partners and people involved.” It might have been easier and quicker to go the “standard route,” he said, but the long-term benefits are what matters.
“It takes a community effort and community interest to pull all of this together,” he said.