Submitted by Veda Ganesan
In the beating heart of our community, where the rhythm of daily life intertwines with the pulse of nature, a story of resilience and collective purpose among the youth is unfolding.
As the specter of climate change looms large, it demands change not just from an individual, but a community. Our streets and schools become the stage for a narrative that transcends the individual and binds the youth in a shared responsibility. In the heart of our community, my high school classroom stands frozen in the outdated embrace of carbon-intensive infrastructure—an unwitting accomplice in environmental harm. Yet, within those walls, the DFW Gen Green team is wielding not just textbooks but a collective voice that echoes through the hallowed halls. Our mission? To transform the very essence of education, combat climate change, and electrify the district. Armed with petitions and passion, rewriting the narrative of our community’s future, DFW Gen Green is demanding progress within the district. School electrification is not merely a vaunt but the only way to collectively brighten the pathway to a sustainable future, forging an educational environment that not only empowers minds but also nurtures a generation committed to stewardship and responsible progress.
A few months ago, I hopped on a Citizens Climate Lobby national conference call hoping to learn a thing or two about promoting sustainability in my community. And there, I just so happened to meet a like-minded, strong willed student – Carys Sherer – who lived just 20 minutes from my house. We immediately knew that we had the same goals in mind and after a few calls, emails, and texts, we formed DFW Gen Green and began presenting our school electrification plan to members of the Lewisville ISD. DFW Gen Green is actively working with the school board to electrify the school buildings, infrastructure, and school buses in LISD, in partnership with Citizens Climate Lobby; the goal is to have LISD pledge to electrify the district by April 2024. As lofty as the plan may be, climate change waits for no one, thus the exigency of our delicate situation demands change.
For years, LISD has been a hallmark of educational excellence, and now, it’s our moment to shine as environmental stewards.
Take, for instance, a remarkable story from the neighboring Coppell ISD. Located just northwest of Dallas, Coppell ISD boasts a remarkable achievement with its state-of-the-art, LEED Gold-certified, net-zero elementary school, Richard J. Lee Elementary. This cutting-edge institution is self-sustaining, generating as much energy as it consumes through wind and solar power. The school was made possible with a $21 million grant from a $79.5 million district bond, as well as support from Oncor Electric for a solar array. The installation of solar panels has not only provided renewable energy but also transformed the school into a living laboratory. Here, the students aren’t just reading about sustainability in textbooks; they’re witnessing the transformative power of the sun in action. These solar panels offer students a hands-on education in the science and art of harnessing clean energy; the students themselves are at the heart of environmental protection. In the heart of LISD, we have the opportunity to empower our children with real-life experiences that will shape their understanding of the environment and the future, but are you ready to make it happen?
LISD can take the lead in reimagining school transportation. Picture our students enjoying quieter, cleaner, and healthier rides as we transition our school bus fleet to electric vehicles. Not only will this create a more comfortable commute, but it will also be a powerful symbol of our commitment to a sustainable future. The sight of electric buses gliding through our neighborhoods will serve as a tangible reminder of our dedication to progress. Electric buses reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, enhancing our energy independence and resilience in the face of supply disruptions. By introducing electric vehicles to our students at an early age, we sow the seeds of a greener, more environmentally conscious future. It’s an investment in our future leaders, demonstrating that we have the power to make a difference. After all, the wheels on the bus go round and round, but the road they travel should lead us to a world we’re proud to inherit!
By replacing outdated gas-powered stoves with energy-efficient electric cooking appliances like induction cooktops, our schools, particularly in the technical schools at Career Centers East and West, can significantly reduce energy consumption, lower their carbon footprint, and foster a more sustainable educational environment.
But at what cost does electrification come? Will electrification prove to be a smart investment or another financial obligation? Realistically, we know that the district won’t be able to transition to change without seeing a return on investment. In addition to being environmentally friendly, electrification offers substantial cost savings and sources of profit. By transitioning to electric heating and cooling systems, we not only reduce carbon emissions but also free up resources that can be reinvested in our schools and remain self-sufficient as our own energy provider. These savings can empower our district to hire skilled educators, enhance our learning tools, and expand extracurricular opportunities for our students while maintaining a balanced budget. Not only will we be cost efficient, but we can improve health, academic competence, and safety in the LISD community.
The call to electrify everything in LISD is more than a plea to adopt clean energy practices; it’s an invitation to empower our students, foster innovation, and set an example for the entire community, whether that be through presentations, tabling, or our petition. By embracing this commitment, we are not just teaching our children the value of energy efficiency and environmental stewardship; we are equipping them with the tools to lead, create, and make a meaningful impact on the world. In LISD, we have the opportunity to be pioneers, leaders, and stewards of a greener and more sustainable future. It’s a journey that calls on us to make a profound difference, and it’s a journey we should eagerly embrace. Together, with your support, we can transform our district into a beacon of sustainability and inspire a generation of environmental leaders, one classroom at a time.
DFW Gen Green will be speaking at the LISD Board Meeting Public Comments Session on Dec. 11, 2023. If you would like to speak as an organization, individual, or business in support of DFW Gen Green and electrification, please contact [email protected].
Veda Ganesan is a sophomore at Marcus High School in Flower Mound. She is co-founder of DFW Gen Green, a youth advocacy group, and the producer/host of her green investing podcast, Sustainable Cents. Veda is also an avid member of the National Communications and Social Media team of Citizens Climate Lobby’s National Youth Action Team.