PAISBOA Hosts Environmental Sustainability Webinar

Shannon Ruane, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

With Earth Day around the corner, PAISBOA hosted a webinar on Leading Change at Your School on Environmental Sustainability on April 15. Sponsored by PECO Smart Energy, the program featured Mary Ann Boyer and Anne Sudduth of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants along with Chief Financial Officers Frank Aloise from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) and Miriam Fisher Schaefer of Friends' Central School (FCS).

PECO’s Patricia Forero shared energy efficiency incentives for schools that will help them save money and reduce environmental impact. For schools that have not yet taken advantage of this program, eligible projects including lighting upgrades and more.

Mary Ann Boyer and Anne Sudduth of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants provided guidance on steps to lead change based on their experience guiding K-12 schools, colleges and businesses to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Their top takeaways included:

  • Engage a broad team with representatives from key areas such as facilities, cafeteria food service, business office, faculty and students.
  • Track data on environmental impact area (such as waste, energy, or water) and engage students to conduct audits
  • Start small and create momentum or a “snowball effect” with projects that are visible and engage the community
  • Tell powerful stories that share project progress and inspire action

In order to demonstrate the power of these and other steps, Aloise and Schaefer provided insight to their respective schools' decision-making process. Both noted that large projects, like SCH’s solar panel installation and FCS’s recent Energy Saving Initiative, come with significant upfront costs; yet they noted that in the long run, these projects pay off. However, not all sustainability projects have to cost money. There are ways to get started without investing a lot of capital and some projects can be deliberately cost-neutral. To achieve success on getting sustainability initiatives started, Aloise advised, “Don’t go to school leadership with a problem. Go with a solution.” He added, “We are faced with trying times. Solutions that don’t cost much money can still have a positive impact, especially when you have the passion and energy of a school’s green team behind an idea.”

Schaefer attributed her school’s success with sustainability to a diverse and passionate team. She advised, “Find the people who care about environmental sustainability and together they can tackle projects.” When Schaefer first introduced the idea of forming a green team, she invited the entire school community and asked for volunteers. She was pleasantly surprised to hear back from people from all aspects of the school -- from a facilities team member who is passionate about native plants to the summer programs director, who emerged as a co-leader of the FCS green team. 

For those who were unable to join the webinar, you may view it below. 

About the PAISBOA Sustainability Group

Interested in sustainability at your school? Please consider joining the PAISBOA Sustainability Group which includes faculty, business officers, administrators, and heads of school who lead or champion sustainability within their schools. The PAISBOA Sustainability Group meets three times a year at various schools to explore and discuss sustainability projects. Email Ron Hill at [email protected] for more information.

Shannon Ruane is an Intern at  Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

View the Webinar