Research in Environmental Science

Danny Stock

High School students presented research and proposals for reducing the carbon footprint of our unified campus around three distinct areas—facilities, waste, and transportation—as part of their curricular work in C.A. Pilling’s Research in Environmental Science class.

Each group presented a range of data-backed and thoughtfully researched solutions from easily achievable to aspirational to help GDS continue to be a better steward of the environment.

The presentation to Head of School Russell Shaw, Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Houser, Assistant Head of School for Curriculum and Instruction Laura Yee, Director of Strategic Programs Vinita Ahuja, Transportation Marketing Associate Noah Hansen, and Director of Facilities & Maintenance Kenny Miluk took place in our new LMS building with some participants joining online.

Megna Ratnapuri ’21, Ken Bailey ’22, and Anoush Keinath-Esmail ’22 completed a detailed inventory of the High School building and identified 42 rooms that they thought would be good candidates for automatic dimmers, which they priced at $40 each, to bring a significant portion of the High School lighting up to the efficiencies found in the new LMS building. Kenny expressed a strong interest in using their inventory and he and Jeffrey asked several questions about their other proposals for storm window installation (to prevent conditioned air leakage through older windows) and a professional energy audit. In addition to the costs of their proposed solutions, the group also calculated the potential energy savings and long-term cost reductions.

Anya Pimenta ’21, Liana Smolover-Bord ’21, Corbin Buchwald ’21, and Jessica Ganley ’21 researched solid waste and food waste at GDS, ultimately proposing a detailed composting program with pilot and future phases to be adopted over time. They explained what they’d learned in communication with the Director of Dining Services Alex Buc about food waste, the logistics of various composting solutions, and the ways current student groups could be involved. Kenny offered to donate the composting barrel if and when they are prepared to move forward with their pilot phase.

As part of their presentation on transportation solutions for carbon footprint reductions, Nadine Ameer ’21, Arthur Delot-Vilain ’21, Noah Weitzner ’21, and Isabelle Orr ’22 proposed GDS form a coalition of schools along the Wisconsin Avenue corridor to lobby for the addition of protected bike lanes along the route. The current map of upcoming bike lane expansions contains no proposals for Wisconsin Avenue. The students appealed to attendees' commitment to the safety of students and the fostering of a community culture around sustainable commutes. They also proposed an expansion of existing bike incentive and leasing programs as well as a multipronged effort to minimize vehicle idling in the GDS carlines. These and other proposals were based on weeks of research that included surveys to several community constituent groups. The presentation concluded with some quick promotional tactics that could contribute to culture change at GDS now and in the future. 

National Bike to School/Work Day, May 5, was promoted at GDS and has been extended through Thursday to allow more of our community members (particularly Middle School and High School students who are virtual on Wednesdays) to participate on a sunny day.

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