The Plymouth Public Schools has made great strides in reducing overall energy consumption and costs through conservation efforts, efficiency upgrades, and renewable energy project development. These accomplishments have helped financially by offsetting other rising costs and have also demonstrated the commitment this district has towards sustainability.
Though there are many definitions of sustainability available today, a commonly accepted definition would include meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. With this definition is the realization that the world is interconnected across social, economic, and environmental boundaries.
With this understanding of sustainability, and through our actions and instruction, we hope to demonstrate for all Plymouth students how an organization such as ours and the individuals within it can have an impact and promote positive change both locally and globally.
The district has been working dilligently over the past several years to develop multiple solar projects. Most of this work is now complete and we are just beginning to realize the financial savings and also observe the environmental benefits from these efforts. Our projects consist of both off site (net-metered) and on site (behind-the-meter) arrays.
The district and town together currently have several net-metered projects under contract. With this type of project, power is produced from a solar array and fed into the electrical grid. For the production of this electricity we are credited by Eversource. To construct and maintain these projects we have partnered with Borrego Solar . These projects are located in Plympton (5.76 Megawatt DC), Freetown (3.5 Megawatt DC), and Wareham (1.38 Megawatt DC). In total, for all of these net-metered projects the associated production is equivalent to the entire consumption of the Plymouth school district and additionally a majority of the town's total electrical consumption.
To track the production of these net-metered projects individually, see the links below corresponding to the town where each project is located:
Also currently on line is a 430 kilowatt DC on site (behind-the-meter) project which is is located on the roof of Plymouth North High School. With this type of project, we will see savings in producing electricity and consuming it on site as well as reductions in demand charges which make up a significant portion of our electric bill. G and S Solar has completed the construction of this project and the project and will continue to operate and maintain it for the district.
All of these systems together are helping the schools and town to save in excess of 1 million dollars annually. This is a major accomplishment that affirms the overall commitment we have toward sustainability and renewable energy.
The Plymouth Public Schools recognize the need to recycle from both an environmental and a financial perspective. Our efforts have expanded greatly over the past several years and now include paper recycling from every building in the district. We are currently expanding the program to include cardboard, and plan to continue to work with the town's Department of Public Works to increase our recycling efforts even further.
Recently, the Plymouth Plublic Schools have partnered with Bay State Textiles to promote textile recycling and as an ongoing way for our schools to generate revenue. A bin has been placed outside each of our schools. Each school will earn $100 for every ton of textiles place in its bin.
For a list of acceptable items visit baystatetextiles.com
The Plymouth Public Schools have been focused on controlling energy costs with an aggressive approach toward energy management for over ten years now. The district's program promotes effective building scheduling, conservative temperature set points, ongoing training for our maintenance personnel, and a comprehensive preventative maintenance plan. The district encourages all employees and building occupants to be responsible with regard to energy use and be to be mindful that controlling overall energy costs requires the entire school community to work collectively.
The Plymouth Public Schools have recently replaced three older diesel powered buses with new Autogas (propane) buses. The new buses are owned by the district and primarily used for transporting our athletes and as shuttles for field trips or other special events. These purchases and this transition of fuels coincides with the district's overall commitment toward sustainability. These new buses are not only more economical with regard to both fuel and maintenance costs, they also have a significantly decreased emissions output as compared to the buses being replaced.
To learn more about the advantages of propane specifically when used as an alternative for school bus fleets, read this recent case study from the US Department of Energy. To learn more about the specific buses the district has purchased and is now operating, read this information from Roush Cleantech and Blue Bird.