Students of all ages and staff of all levels are working across the state to implement clean and efficient energy projects at their schools and campuses. Use these project planning resources to help you think about where your Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon group can start.
At a minimum you should identity and recruit three different types of school officials to your project: administrators, facilities managers, and teachers. For the school to implement your project, it will most likely need to be approved by the school district board. Without support from a school administrator, the project would have a difficult time passing the school board’s approval. If facilities management personnel are the people that will have to maintain the project once it is installed; if they are not on board with the project, its lifespan will be short. Clean energy projects at schools have the potential to incorporate the project’s goals and outcomes into the classroom. If teachers are unenthused or unwilling to incorporate the project into their curriculum, this educational component will not be added.
These contacts are critically important as the project progresses. These point people will be needed when you’re ready to present your project idea to the school administration and school board.
Look for ways to involve students. This includes in the classroom as in extracurricular such as environmental and science student clubs. Not only will this increase the diversity of participants involved in the project, it may open the door for new educational funding opportunities.
Think about the educational connections of the project up front, not as an afterthought. Although a clean energy project may seem to naturally fit into a school’s curriculum, exactly how the project can be incorporated into the classroom needs to be thought of before hand, rather than after the project has been completed. Planning how the project can fit into the curriculum early on can help with getting additional educational grants and funds.
Conduct a thorough survey of existing programs and projects to make sure you’re not duplicating other efforts. Universities and Colleges across the state are beginning new energy initiatives and programs; so much is happening that it is sometimes difficult to know who is doing what. If you have a new idea for a project, check first to see if another group of people is working on a similar project and explore how you can partner with them.
Develop a contact from within the University’s administration, faculty, and facilities management department. They will be instrumental as the project moves forward.
It is important to understand the funding process and mechanisms of the University/College you are working in. In general, there are two paths that funding requests must go through: through the University’s Board of Regents, or through department discretionary spending. These paths are not exclusive. If your funding must be approved by the Board of Regents, be prepared for a longer time frame to complete the project. If your project can be approved by discretionary funds in a department, make connections with the department head and lead budget officer.
Build a relationship with someone in the College/University press/media services. Also build relationships with campus sustainability administrators and professors. As they learn more about other projects on campus, having a good relationship with them means they can share that information with you.