MFS Sustainability Efforts Showcased

Kerry Slimm and Brian Fidiam use a tablet to program this small robot to line the athletic fields saving time and money.

MFS Physical Plant Team Saves Money, Time, and Energy

This recent article appeared on the blog of partner Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants and in the Philadelphia Area Independent School Business Officers Association (PAISBOA) Friday Flyer
Article by Jessica Korgen, Sustainability Intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, Haverford College ’24.

“Going sustainable” as a school can be a daunting task. Oftentimes it is hard to find a place to start. However “going green” does not necessarily require a huge solar field installation or immediately installing a composting system. In fact, projects that require little effort can have the biggest impact. There are several simple and cost effective actions schools can take to make themselves more sustainable.

Moorestown Friends School has completed several green initiatives that both increase efficiency and save money.  MFS Director of Physical Plant Julius “Jul” Trimbach offered some insight on how to transition a school into a more eco-friendly place. Jul’s main point was that sustainability does not have to be flashy.

One of MFS’s most recent high-impact projects has been to install over 700 LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which are 90% more efficient than their old incandescent bulbs and can last up to 20 times longer. By just switching to LEDs,  MFS saved 98,000 kWh/year and reduced their annual carbon footprint by nearly 70,000 kg of CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalents). This project did not break the bank either. In fact, their return on investment will begin within four years. Simply reducing the  required energy and maintenance for the lights will save MFS tens of thousands of dollars. This is not irregular for sustainable infrastructure because, as Jul mentions, “Sustainability goes hand in hand with saving money all the time.” As the world transitions to more sustainable sources of energy, there are also several rebates and incentives available to schools, businesses, and individuals that want to be more sustainable. This LED lighting project, for example, had nearly 1⁄3 of its total costs covered through rebates and incentives.

Besides LED lighting, Jul and his team have taken other small  measures to make MFS more sustainable. MFS’s maintenance team has also begun to insulate pipes in order to reduce excess heat loss and lower the school’s energy bill.

The Physical Plant team of Cody Ambacher, Julius Trimbach, and Tim Barnes facilitated the installation of approximately 700 LED lights.

While saving energy is important, Jul also asserts that “Sustainability doesn’t just exist with energy, it also exists with people power.” Using this philosophy, Jul and his team institute practices that save labor time. Over the summer when few people were in school, Jul reduced the number of trash pickups from everyday to once a week. This saved both gasoline and people’s time.

Jul does a lot for the school, but the change he is most excited about is just “knee high.” The School purchased a small robot to paint the lines on the athletic fields. The robot is programmed to paint exactly where the lines should be, so there is no worry when the grass gets cut. With this investment, Jul cut labor by 75% and saved 50% of the paint he used to purchase when the lines were manually painted.  This frees up his staff to do other tasks.

Looking to introduce sustainable initiatives at your own school? Jul encourages others to not get frustrated when their ideas get turned down or don’t pan out. He emphasizes that there are so many opportunities to be sustainable and notes, “Five little things are as good as one big one” He asserts that the more success you have, the more people let you do. And lastly he advises, make sure what people do has an impact; follow the statistics, track where your energy and waste goes, and make sure you’re making a difference. Start small with easy changes to build momentum and work your way up from there.

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