Valley Reporter: Crossett Brook Middle School takes solar challenge

IMG_1985On Tuesday, September 10, Waterbury Local Energy Action Partnership (LEAP) and solar installers SunCommon gathered in the sustainability classroom at Crossett Brook Middle School to announce a Solar for Scholars Challenge aimed at adding 40 new solar homes in Waterbury and Duxbury by August 2014.

If they reach their 40-home goal, LEAP and SunCommon will fund the construction of a new greenhouse for Cros-sett Brook valued at $10,000. The greenhouse fits with the school’s sustainability education program, new this year, as students will use it to grow their own organic vegetables while learning about the ben-efits of local food production.

“I have the best job in the world,” Crossett Brook sustainability education coordinator Sarah Popowicz said. on Tuesday after the announcement, explaining that students are really excited about the hands-on learning opportunity.

Students got the chance to express their excitement themselves, holding up photos of the local residential solar systems they’ve been learning about and showing LEAP and SunCommon the area in which the greenhouse would be built.

“We learned about sustainability through The Lorax,” one student said.

When asked why sustainability was important to them another replied, “It’s our future we’re talking about.”

In addition to building the greenhouse, Crossett Brook plans to install a 150kilowatt solar array on a half acre of land beside the school’s soccer fields by November of this year. “We’re talking about solar here, and we actually get to watch it being built,” Popowicz said.

When the solar array is complete, Crossett Brook “will have the most solar capacity of any school in Vermont,” LEAP chair Duncan McDougall said.

In the last year,, the local nonprofit organization LEAP has helped the towns of Waterbury and Duxbury double their residential solar capacity by adding 34 new systems. The Solar for Scholars Challenge hopes to increase that capacity even more, while allowing local students to benefit through use of the new greenhouse. Now, going solar “is great for the planet, great for the local economy and great for our kids’ education,” LEAP board member Jamie Ervin said.

September 12, 2013

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