Energy Team competes to earn environmental certifications

A group of student leaders known as The Energy Team worked throughout the summer to prepare for Marshall’s entry in the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 Energy Star National Building Competition. This competition encourages buildings nationwide to save water and energy, and Marshall could potentially be the first Fairfax County public school to earn EcoSchool and Green School certifications through their participation in this competition.

“This project is valuable because it can help Marshall reduce its energy use and costs as well as lower its carbon footprint,” senior and project coordinator Leeann Soyka said.

Soyka said she will implement a number of changes in the hope to lower energy consumption by 30 percent in comparison to last year. With the partnership of The Energy Team, she said she will look at aspects of the school including heating and lighting and even analyze the health of the trees as an opportunity to reduce negative environmental impact.

“We work hard to create awareness in order to use energy efficiently, so Marshall wouldn’t have to pay close to half a million dollars on its energy bill anymore,” sophomore and Energy Team member Luka Gabitsinashvili said.

The Energy Team plans to focus on one energy reduction method each week during the competition’s bootcamp, which runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. They will spread the word to their peers about each week’s method through posters, announcements and social media. Part of Soyka’s job as project coordinator includes social media promotion, but she also works to recruit volunteers and complete the many requirements for the certification, along with being the original initiator of the project.

“I initiated the Green Schools Project because I wanted to help Marshall save energy, money and natural resources,” Soyka said.

Once the competition ends, participants will continue to put their efforts towards keeping the community eco-friendly through their clubs and service hours.