Switlik Elementary School earns national Green Ribbon award

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JACKSON – The Switlik Elementary School in Jackson has earned the national Green Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education. The award was announced on April 22.

In a message posted on the Jackson School District website, administrators said they were “proud to share that the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Switlik Elementary School has earned the department’s Green Ribbon award for its innovative efforts to reduce environmental impacts and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The school is one of only two in New Jersey to win this award.”

Superintendent of Schools Nicole Pormilli said, “This is an incredible accomplishment and one that is so meaningful because it was earned through the collaboration of so many people within the Switlik school community and the district.

“We are so proud of Switlik and of all the students, staff and administrators who work hard every day to ensure we are finding ways to care for our planet and each other,” she said.

The Switlik school was cited for its behavior-based energy conservation and facilities improvements, which reduced energy consumption by 16%. This equates to $2.5 million in savings in the past four years and an Energy Star rating of 96.

The school’s administration received a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant to construct a greenhouse and installed two water bottle filling stations, averting the use of 18,000 plastic water bottles to date.

Principal Kathleen McKiernan said the award was the result of a team effort.

“This is a wonderful building, with wonderful people, and I could not be more proud of them. Switlik is filled with such passionate and committed educators, staff and students, and any positive light that shines on them is much deserved and appreciated,” she said.

Pormilli said she is thrilled the “Green Team” at the Switlik school has been recognized for its passion and commitment to sustainability.

She said the projects and initiatives at the school are part of a purposeful and structured school district energy program which focuses on finding innovative and creative ways to save money and create a culture of responsibility and accountability throughout the district.

“This national recognition caps off a banner year for us. A month ago we earned a $1.1 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to purchase two electric-powered garbage trucks that were sorely needed, and we receive annual recognition in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program for our programs. We are very proud of all we have going on in our energy program,” Pormilli said.

According to district administrators, initiatives in the Jackson School District’s energy program include:

• The implementation of a district-wide $27 million Energy Savings Improvement Project (ESIP) funded by energy savings;

• Participating in a demand response program that is generating approximately $84,000 in revenue this year;

• Holding two reverse energy auctions to secure the lowest cost for electricity and natural gas. The result was a 2-cent per kilowatt savings and the stabilization of natural gas pricing;

• As part of the ESIP program, the school district reduces its carbon footprint by replacing outdated equipment and has instituted solar energy generation at 10 additional locations;

• Seven schools are bronze certified, and the Elms Elementary School and Jackson Liberty High School are silver certified through the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program. The school district has received 18 grants through its participation in the program;

• Energy program and energy education specialist John Blair has increased energy savings through progressive monitoring, education, strategic planning, energy auditing and ESIP participation.