American Chemistry Matters: Driving Innovation, Creating Jobs and Enhancing Safety

In the face of budget cuts, Pennsylvania schools cut back on their energy use

Schools across Pennsylvania have discovered a way to recoup lost funds resulting from state budget cuts this year: cutting back on the energy they consume in the classroom.

And they’re doing it with the help of energy-efficient technologies like programmable thermostats and efficient lighting, according to an article by Jessica Tully in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Brian Kauffman, executive director of Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA), noted that one school district – North Penn in Lansdale – saved approximately $1.1 million in 2012.

In conjunction with its Energy Education Fund, KEEA presented six Pa. schools with awards for achieving the most improvement in energy efficiency within the past year.

“We wanted to help give recognition to schools that were making progress in becoming more energy-efficient,” said Kauffman. No. 1 was Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie, which reduced energy consumption by 23 percent and saved more than $86,000.

ACC is encouraged to see schools taking the initiative to become more energy efficient. We also hope students are paying extra attention in their chemistry classes — because chemistry plays a key role in the development of nearly every innovation related to energy efficiency.

Some of these innovations include spray polyurethane foam and rigid insulation; low emissivity window films, solar shingles and other photovoltaic solutions.

A recent study by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), estimates that the products of chemistry, such as window and roofing coatings, insulation, piping and lighting, could help achieve a 41 percent reduction in energy use and 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, when combined with a shift to lower carbon fuels.

Such savings could certainly pay for a lot of musical instruments and art supplies, not to mention more teachers!

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