Europe District leads middle school Earth Day audit

USACE Europe District
Published May 1, 2018
A man with a clip board looks into and points at three trash cans.

Steve Ross, civil engineer Europe District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, leads students in an audit of waste disposal during Earth Day 2018 at Wiesbaden Middle School April 18.

For Earth Day 2018 at Wiesbaden Middle School, the students conducted an audit of the building they’re about to vacate before they move into their new digs this fall.

The sixth and seventh graders gathered in the gymnasium to receive instructions from Jennifer Patterson, environmental protection specialist with Europe District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We’re trying to increase student awareness of the impact of building design, construction, and usage and how it has an impact on the environment,” said Patterson. “As lifelong users of building systems, and the future designers, buyers, and builders, this knowledge will impact their future communities.”

“A lot of enthusiastic volunteers came out and walked the kids through their paces, to include observation, investigations of the rooms they were in, and various calculations,” she added.

The students broke into groups with 18 Europe District employee volunteers, who coached students throughout the process. Each group was assigned a different location in the building where they measured one of the following: water use, proper waste disposal, ventilation, and electrical and lighting demands.

Each district volunteer had data sheets for collecting data, basic tools for measurement, and necessary equations. The audit was framed as a competition between water and energy audit seminars.

“Obviously when they get a new school next year, things will be very different for them, but as our future builders, designers, and buyers it’s important for them to realize a building has a footprint and that footprint lasts for years and it’s important to be a discerning user of the facility,” said Patterson.

To wrap up the audit the USACE project manager for their new school talked to the students, focusing on how the new building will be more water and energy efficient than the existing structure.

“The earth has only so much, so right now we need to do something about it,” said Sibylle Ballnath. “We all need to do something and you need to continue into the future to watch the resources and spend them wisely.”

“You are the most important piece in the new building,” she added. “Be aware of all the energy and pieces of the earth that are used and take care of it. Take care of your earth--our earth.”