Trying to model good ecological practices for our students is an on-going process - we are constantly trying to do better, to re-evaluate and ensure that we are managing our environment as mindfully as possible. There are things about this building that it's hard to combat - it was not built with lightness of footprint in mind. But there are definitely things we can do, things we are doing, and things we can learn to do more effectively.
One thing we are doing that is working really well is managing our electricity consumption. We have reduced our use of electricity by almost 20% since we consciously decided to 'become' green. We are enthusiastically turning off lights, we've changed over to fluorescent bulbs, we've reduced the length of time that parking lot lights are used in the evenings - and all that adds up to a significant amount. Dave Alber (Mike's father) is looking into installing motion-sensor light switches in the children's bathrooms. (Thank you, Dave!) This helps reduce our environmental impact; it also helps reduce our costs. The savings allow us to focus more on programs and teaching, and less on utilities and bills.
Our gas bill savings are not as dramatic (although we are going the right direction): we're brainstorming right now for ways to reduce our heating and cooling consumption. We're looking into replacing the thermostats in each room to give us more control; that will help. We're also investing in some draft-stoppers for the outside doors, to reduce cold air coming in (perhaps the children will make them in aftercare...). If you have ideas to contribute, please let me know! Get your child involved in the conversation - it makes a great over-dinner discussion: how can we all become more energy-efficient? What gets left on that could be turned off? How can we keep heat from escaping? The children are often the ones to come up with the best, most creative solutions.