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Teaching by Example at St. Rose of Lima School
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A few years ago, institutions ranging from large corporations to non-profit organizations began to realize the benefits of a more sustainable existence. From recycling programs that went beyond recycling the typical bottles and cans to construction projects that made significant investments in reclaimed materials, the benefits of environmental stewardship were plentiful. From leaving a smaller footprint to creating healthier workplaces for occupants, “going green” truly became a movement.

As awareness grew, organizations of all sizes began to explore ways to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices into their cultures. The benefit of investing in environmental awareness is particularly fruitful for K-12 institutions, a fertile environment for shaping young minds to be aware of the impact their decisions can have on the world around them and the new technologies that exist to harvest energy and other resources from the Earth. OSHEAN member St. Rose of Lima School in Warwick embodies this spirit of sustainability, and the most visible indication of this commitment is the recent installation of solar panels on the school building roof.

Working with Providence-based consultant Clean Energy Development LLC (CED), Principal Kim Izzi and the school’s pastor Father Matthew Glover outlined a plan that would yield multiple benefits referred to as a “triple bottom line:” financial, environmental and social/spiritual. The investment in solar technology provided all three while giving the school a teaching tool for years to come.

CED helped St. Rose of Lima secure a $240,000 grant from the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, and GEM Plumbing and Heating facilitated the installation. While the solar panels are visible from the outside, a TV monitor inside the school relays real-time activity of how much energy is being saved. Father Matt anticipates the solar installation will yield energy cost savings approaching 33 percent, but the biggest impact will likely be felt by the students: as part of a broader curriculum that connects the solar panels on the roof to the community garden where they grow and harvest food for donating to the West Bay Community Action program, the school’s internal green team is building a culture that encourages students to take action and become good stewards of the Earth.

“Each of these initiatives combine to make our parish more sustainable,” said Father Matt. “And overall, it drives home the importance to students of taking care of God’s green earth.”

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