Sustainability Meeting Nov. 19, 2014

Jennifer Freeman led the discussion. She has scheduled a meeting with Sonya Mosco, the HCCS Administration’s Deputy Director of Campus Schools to discuss the ideas formulated in this meeting and by HCHS students. The meeting is scheduled for December 8th at 11:30 a.m., a time that will permit students to participate. All steps affecting the physical plant must go through the HCCS administration before action can be taken on them.

Participants had several ideas for improving the functionality of our beloved ‘brick prison’ that do not require enormous effort, funds or any structural work. All participants were excited about the ideas presented and joined the Sustainability committee. Ideas generating the most enthusiasm were:

·        Joining the Green Schools Alliance.

·        Brightening the school library.

·        Installing hand dryers in the bathrooms.

·        Promoting general good ecological practices.

·        Cleaning the ventilation system and carpeting.

Green Schools Alliance

The Green Schools Alliance has a track record of dispensing useful information and know-how to New York City schools. These include names of eco-friendly, affordable cleaning supplies and solid training in recycling practices. The Alliance requires that members attempt to execute along any or all of the following three tracks, the text of which is taken from their website:

1.      Reduce our ecological and climate impact.

2.      Educate and engage our community.

3.      Connect to nature and place.

There is no fee or membership charge to join the Alliance.

All present agreed that HCHS shouldVote to join the Green Schools Alliance.

School Library

Students and parents would like to improve the library’s ambiance. The student environmental group has proposed new lighting (including LEDs, which we understand can easily be used in or retrofitted with the current system) and painting the walls a brighter color. The current gray color is light absorbing and not very cheery. Parents are happy to provide the manpower or perhaps engage a non-profit such as Non-Traditional Employment for Women or Brooklyn Workforce1 to do this work if the administration prefers, or possibly engage a situation that would present a community service opportunity for students.

Bathrooms

Students are greatly interested in mounting hand dryers, such as Dyson Airblades, in the bathrooms. These energy efficient dryers deter germ growth, an important feature in a building that has very few windows. Another plus would be the removal of mess that comes with towels being tossed around.  Although there is a significant upfront expense, there is an ongoing savings; in any event, there are fundraising possibilities that can be considered to effectuate implementation.

General Good Practice

General good practice includeseffective recycling of trash, changing to LED bulbs wherever possible, using recycled paper, and using eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Perhaps the easiest task would be to schedule one of the free training sessions that New York City’s Department of Sanitation provides for the custodial staff. Site visits are scheduled through this link:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/recycling/outreach.shtml

Cleaning the Ventilation System and Carpeting

Interior air quality is a big consideration when it comes to our children’s health. Many of the air vents are quite visibly dirty, as is the carpeting. Cleaning the ducts and changing the air filters should be part of regular site maintenance. The committee would like those who attend the meeting with Sonya Mosco to find out how frequently the duct system is cleaned and what is the proper schedule for replacing the air filters and cleaning or replacing the vent covers? Many vent covers are visibly dirty.

The carpets are very old and so may not be up to current building code requirements. The committee would like to ask Sonya about those as well. WE would like to learn when these carpets were installed, what brand they are and when they were last cleaned.? Further, a number of carpet adhesives emit volatile organic compounds, which may or may not be harmful. Information about the carpet would enable the committee to research the carpet material and adhesives used to determine if cleaning enough is alone to ensure a safe environment for our children, teachers, administration and support staff.  These concerns are also consistent with having incorporated "the Healthy Hunter Committee" into the Sustainability Committee.