Part 1: What is Sustainability?
Ms. Amy MacDonald, an environmental resource educator from UNC’s Institute for the Environment, facilitated the first classroom session. During this session, the students engaged in a discussion of the three components of sustainability: environment, economy and society. The goal of this activity was to stimulate the critical thinking skills necessary to enable students to assess the sustainability of products, services, and actions (including local government), and to empower them to make informed choices.
Part 2: The “Green” Economy
The Foundation for a Sustainable Community facilitated a discussion panel on the emerging new “Green” economy. The youth were able to hear from local business owners on the changes that are being made in the marketplace as a result of the green economy and learn how businesses are changing practices and engaging their workforce to embrace the demand for “green.”
Hands on Field Work
The youth engaged in a real-world, sustainable business environment through work with the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). With the help of Patrick Davis, OWASA Utility Manager Generalist, the youth learned the importance of water conservation and were exposed to the latest science and research within the field. From this experience, the youth were able to develop and execute a community service project that does a ‘before and after’ look at the savings associated with water-saving retrofits of toilets, showerheads and faucet aerators.
Community Service Project
The youth designed and implemented their own service project to assess the sustainability of water use in Chapel Hill Public Housing using the knowledge and skills they learned in the previous modules. The Youth managed the project from start to finish by working directly with Town staff, professional consultants, and community partners.
The Youth worked with OWASA using tools developed especially for the project to evaluate water consumption data for Chapel Hill Public Housing units. Based on this data, the youth conducted water audits on 5 units and retrofitted these same units with high-efficiency toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators generously donated by Niagara Conservation Corporation.
With assistance from OWASA, the students monitored water consumption several months and calculated the projected yearly savings for these units based on their observations.
Below are links to tools used for this project but can also be used for you to perform your own audit:
Public Information Campaign
After successfully completing their service project, the youth presented their work to the community at the Town Council meeting on May 4, 2009. In addition to presenting their work, the youth created a series of recommendations for the Town to consider as ways to improve sustainability in Chapel Hill public housing. Their case study and presentation was then refereed to Town Staff and the Town’s sustainability committee so that the Town could evaluate their suggested strategies and determine a viable plan for its public housing stock. As part of this effort, participants will also call attention to the program’s mission and encourage other youth to get involved.
Below are links to the program's case study and presentation to the Town Council.