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Public – Private Effort for Renewable Energy at Stevenson High School


Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, District 125 walks the talk!

The Students, Staff, Administration and School Board have one of the most ambitious Sustainability plans of any school district in the State, and maybe the country. Operational elements at Stevenson High School are addressed in light of short and long-term sustainability.

This initiative ensures the “triple bottom line” effect is realized for District 125. That triple bottom line is: 1. Economic/Financial Impact; 2. Environmental Impact; and 3. Social Impact. Stevenson is on the leading edge of this "New Normal" for running a school district.

To coincide with this past year’s Green Week (November 15) Stevenson began installation of a Hybrid Solar Thermal/Solar Photovoltaic(PV) power generating system on the roof outside of the Advanced Placement Environmental Sciences classroom. The Solar Thermal system is comprised of 60 tubes that capture the sun’s energy to heat water used for hot water requirements. The six(6), PV panels collect the sun’s energy and convert this energy into electricity for use by the school.

Bob Belick of Sustainable Strategies in St. Charles, IL states “The implementation of this hybrid energy system is a shinning example of a public – private collaborative effort. It makes a positive contribution to our environment by reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions and our carbon footprints by using the renewable energy technologies. The system enables Stevenson to get some control of their power costs and most importantly, affords the students of Stevenson High the opportunity for becoming the next generation of environmental and energy stewards."

It takes vision and the commitment of many individuals to bring a project as this to reality. From the public side of the effort it starts with the District 125 School Board that provides the foundation for the vision. It takes the support of the Administration and Staff. Mark Michelini, Assistant Superintendent for Business has to implement the vision and make economic sense of it. Dave Wilms, a Stevenson High retired science teacher and pilot of the Stevenson Green Committee has to execute the vision. It takes the support of the Sodexo folks (who manage the facilities at Stevenson) headed up by Ted Yarbrough. It takes Barry Orgeron and his Sodexo staff’s effort to integrate the new technologies into Stevenson’s existing power systems.

On the private side of the effort, Sustainable Strategies coordinated a three-company cooperative effort for developing the project. The project took a committed effort by John Palpant and Chicago Solar Energy (St. Charles, IL) to provide and install the Solar Thermal technology. The design and production of a “first of it’s kind”, hybrid Solar Thermal/PV adjustable rack came from SolarWind USA (Melrose Park, IL) with Don Wolfson and Don Anderson making it happen from the embryonic stage to a finished product. The rack was manufactured in SolarWind USA’s Aurora, IL production facility creating new clean energy jobs in Illinois. Yes!

This was made financially possible by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awarding Stevenson High School a grant to implement the renewable energy generating technologies.

Who says clean energy is not in our economic, environmental or social best interest? One only needs to ask the Students of Adlai E. Stevenson High School and the Community of Lincolnshire.

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