NEW ULM - Youth Energy Summit (YES) teams from Sleepy Eye and Springfield talked about their environmental projects Friday at a Brown County Congress event at the Rural Electrical Association auditorium.
Organized by Sleepy Eye High School science teacher Deb Reinarts and Mary Beth Botz of Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, the team held locker clean out days at each school and collected hundreds of pounds of recyclable material.
Other projects were replacing incandescent with CFL light bulbs in several apartment buildings and recycling old, non-working Christmas lights.
The team was recently awarded $2,500 in environmental stewardship grants.
Led by science teacher Amanda Meyer, the Springfield High School YES team installed 40 solar-powered lights on the city's recreational trail, received a community service award at the state fair, distributed plastic and aluminum can recycling containers in the community, received an Earth Tub Compost device from Carlton College after visiting the school, created Green Sneaker reuse/recycle containers, and took part in an interactive sixth grade ecology class lesson on climate change.
Springfield projects in development include a greenhouse to be built with a $20,000 Monsanto Corp. grant and an energy bicycle project with Westbrook/Walnut Grove High School.
A green roof project that was observed at Carlton is a costlier project with long-term payback.
"Putting vegetation on building roofs increases insulation value and reduces run-off," Meyer said. "It works best with new construction right now. Project collaboration with organizations with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and others is the wave of the future."
Mathiowetz Construction engineer Keith Olson said Brown County landfills are able to offer some of the state's lowest landfill costs thanks to locally excavated clay that lines landfills and doesn't leak.
Bryce Boelter of MR Paving talked about Valley Demo & Recycling, located just south of Highway 14 East, across the road from Minnesota Valley Lutheran (MVL) High School.
"We crush gravel and blacktop, recycle and re-use it," Boelter said. "More and more things will be recycled in the future. This starts with new ideas and intentions like school YES teams."
Boelter said he picks through everything brought to the demolition landfill himself.
"We deal with many local and area waste haulers. If we can't take it, it goes to a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfill," he added. "We're trying to make a positive environmental impact. You can't legally bury an old building in a rural farm site anymore."
On Saturday mornings, Boelter said he and his children often find unacceptable garbage in local recycling bins and properly dispose of it.
Acceptable demolition landfill waste includes untreated lumber and plywood, siding, wall covering, electrical wiring, roofing materials, duct work, wall board, sheet rock, built-in cabinets, plumbing fixtures, affixed carpet and padding, ceramics, conduit and pipes, building glass, insulation, wood and vinyl flooring, plastic building parts, sheathing, molded fiberglass, rubber, drain tile, recognizable parts of a burned structure, metal, ceiling tile, bituminous concrete, asphalt pavement and blacktop, concrete including re-rod, bricks, stone, stucco and masonry plaster, uncontaminated soil, grubbing, root balls, and tree stumps.
Twenty-four hour notice is required prior to delivery of any asbestos-containing material.
Unacceptable demo wastes are household garbage, loose or rolled carpet and padding, hazardous waste, appliances, thermostats, treated lumber, caulk and glue tubes, slat siding, tree branches, bulk cardboard, foundry sands, infectious and sewage waste, street sweepings, fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, solvents, petroleum products, lead acid batteries, paint cans, mattresses, clothing, furniture, ash, yard waste, sludge, waste oil and oil filters, tires, and car parts.
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