Monday, March 27, 2006

Global Warming - Christian Buck

Christian Buck

Global warming is a threat we hear about everyday. It has fueled large debates on the environment. Most people know what it is and that it is affecting us in some way. What is global warming and what problems does it cause? Is it a major threat to us, will it endanger our lives and lifestyle?
Global warming is the warming of our atmosphere through a large blanket of carbon dioxide and many other chemicals. Like a greenhouse, the heat from the outside world is conducted and stored, which has given global warming the name “the greenhouse affect”. Without some atmosphere of compounds like carbon dioxide, our planet would be like mars; unbearably hot in the day and freezing at night. Our atmosphere keeps life stable and alive in a protected space.
The problem we have at the moment is our atmosphere is becoming too thick. A thick atmosphere makes the temperature rise. As a result the polar ice caps are melting and the oceans rise. Plants and animals unable to adapt are dying at enormous rates. This has happened in the past as a result of natural events, but this time we are helping create another period of extinction.
Cars and their drivers add up to releasing 5.5 tons of carbon dioxide a year and when combined with heating, air conditioning, and other processes that require fossil fuels everyone adds up to releasing 18.7 tons of carbon dioxide annually[1]. The amount of people on our earth is still increasing. We already are supporting over 6.5 billon people. This means to figure the amount of carbon released each year we would have to multiply 18.7 tons of carbon by 6.5 billion people. This number does not include the amount of C02 released by the other species of animals on our planet.
When an organic object dies it decomposes. Decomposing is the act of breaking down matter into simple chemicals and in the process a lot of carbon dioxide is released. Every tree, blade of grass and every insect releases more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. We as humans are the masters of releasing CO2. We start fires, run cars and other tools powered by fossil fuels. Like other creatures we die and decompose. We are very responsible for global warming which in return is affecting our lives at this very moment. We can help reverse the process of global warming. If we can cut down on burning fossil fuel and organic matter, and come up with ideas for efficient energy we will reduce the damage we are causing to our planet. Planting trees can help as well. Trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. Massive deforestation is harmful but can be turned around with help from people willing to replant our forest and jungles.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kate Costello - Grant Writing

Kate Costello

During the past two weeks, we have sent out our first two grants. This is especially exciting for us, as we have been working hard on developing a boilerplate grant and customizing it for each individual foundation since the beginning of the semester.
We applied to the Merck Family Fund for a three year, twenty-five thousand dollar per year grant to cover the start up costs of the Carbon Zero Project. This is to cover a faculty salary as well as startup costs, phone, internet, stationary and envelopes, ect. These costs are presently incorporated into the school budget, but as we expand we would like to not be so dependent on the school. After this three-year period, we hope that our business will be self-sufficient and sustainable. We plan to impose a 1% surcharge to the companies’ cost for certification in order to pay for these expenses after this grant has expired. However, as we are a beginning company, it will be a while before we have gained enough momentum to pay for our expenses without the help of a grantor such as Merck.
Additionally, we have applied to the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation for a five thousand dollar grant to fund the creation and maintenance of a website for the Carbon Zero Project. This grant will allow us to hire a web designer for our much needed website. The creation of a website will allow us to establish a web-presence beyond that of this blog. It will allow prospective companies to learn more about our project and potentially request more information while featuring the companies that are already signed up, while being more formal than the blog. If you would like to read the Merck grant, it is provided below.

Example Grant - Merck Family Fund

March 14, 2006

Jenny Russell, Executive Director
Merck Family Fund
303 Adams Street
Milton, MA 02186-4253

Dear Ms. Russell:

In the fall of 2004, students at the Vermont Commons School (VCS), a private, college-preparatory school for grades 7-12, began a project called the Commons Co-op. This project set out to reduce the energy usage and associated carbon emissions at our school. Carbon emissions are the leading cause of global warming, and by increasing awareness among our own community we hope to reduce carbon emissions. Within the school, this project reduced energy dependency by 18.3% in consumption alone and then went beyond these reductions, offsetting 100% of carbon emissions through carbon sequestration.

We began by making small changes such as installing energy efficient light bulbs, turning lights of when we left the room and unplugging appliances that were not in use. Through our efforts we planted 1500 trees to neutralize the remaining emissions produced by our school. In the fall of 2005 the group began to imagine greater prospects of energy conservation by expanding into the larger community. The new focus of this organization is to certify local businesses as Carbon Zero. This Carbon Zero designation is awarded to businesses that have neutralized their carbon output by reducing overall energy consumption, introducing renewable energy sources, and funding ecologically diverse carbon sequestration projects. Use of the logo provides companies with a valuable marketing tool. To label companies as Carbon Zero, members of our project analyze the companies electricity bills and provide them with strategies to neutralize their emissions. We began analyzing energy audits and writing business proposals for likeminded companies that would be willing to follow in our footsteps.

This past fall the Commons Co-op was renamed the Carbon Zero Project. We agreed to expand our original initiative; to increase awareness, reduce energy consumption, invest in renewable electricity sources and completely eliminate carbon emissions through carbon sequestration, to outside the walls of VCS. Through our project, we aspire to not only help the environment, but also improve a company's sales and educate the community about global warming and carbon emissions. This project presents businesses with a chance to cancel out their carbon emissions through ecological restoration, while providing them with a progressive marketing strategy. Our process involves a three-pronged approach to neutralize carbon emissions, beginning with reducing energy consumption, creating a plan that utilizes renewable sources and, lastly, planting trees to sequester remaining carbon emissions.

The Carbon Zero Project combines environmental education with a proactive effort to benefit the community. This class is now conducted using a business model; the teacher acts as the boss and students as employees. Whatever is accomplished is done by the students. With all the responsibility that students are given, we are actually running the company, and we are provided with invaluable pre-professional work experience in writing business proposals, analyzing energy audits and meeting with the owners of companies and presenting them with ways in which they can combat electricity costs and reduce carbon emissions. Our future expansion will not be possible without a full time faculty member to direct the students. Through our project, we aspire to not only help the environment, but also improve a company's sales and educate the community about global warming and carbon emissions.

We request a three-year grant, for $25,000 per year, from the Merck Family Foundation to fund our start-up costs, pay the salary of a faculty member who will lead the Carbon Zero Certification Project and hire an additional instructor to manage our correspondence with businesses. Our start-up costs will include mail, website, phone, internet access, and office supplies. We aspire for self-sufficiency. After this three-year period is complete, we will have enough companies enrolled to generate funds to pay for the project's annual costs, by imposing a 1% service charge.

Although the project is still in the preliminary stages, we have received interest from many local businesses, such as Middlebury College, Healthy Living Natural Foods and JDK Design, who would like to get involved with the Carbon Zero Project. We already have two local business certified as 100% Carbon Zero. We continue to perform energy audits, analyze electricity consumption as well as write and present our proposals to businesses, and hope to sign up at least five new businesses per semester. Until this point we have been able to fund our project through the budget of the school, and are taught by an existing social science professor. It is apparent that if we are to continue our progress, we will require alternate funding from programs such as yours. We envision this certification to be equivalent to the organic label. With all the media attention on peak oil, global warming and other environmental concerns, our project proscribes a course of action. In time our project will undoubtedly draw attention of many large businesses, as well as the media.

With your help, our project will be able to expand beyond the local community, become a sustainable business and after the three-year period, become self-sufficient.

Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


Will Hayden
Ninth Grade
Ian Hollyer
Ninth Grade
Kate Costello
Tenth Grade