LISD Center for a Sustainable Future dedicated on Tipton Highway

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LISD students Ashley Kimmitt and Alex Gust helped cut a garland of greenery to dedicate the new Center for a Sustainable Future. Photo by Deb Wuethrich.

Lenawee Intermediate School District’s (LISD) new Center for a Sustainable Future campus on Tipton Highway was dedicated with a program, ribbon cutting and open house, complete with tours of the Net Zero energy classroom and laboratory structure, on Monday, June 10. Instead of a ribbon, a garland of greenery was cut.

LISD Superintendent Jim Philp said it is the first Net Zero energy school building in the state of Michigan and how proud he was that students would benefit from the opportunities to learn about alternative energy, sustainable agriculture and other future technologies at the site, thanks to the vision of school officials and the community. The new building is earth-bermed and has classroom space on the roof where growing will take place. Solar fixtures jut through the roof and into the ceilings of the building.

LISD TECH Center agri-tech student and FFA (Future Farmers of America) member Ashley Kimmitt told how she believed the new center would help students with comparisons such as organic growing versus conventional methods, and farm-to-table opportunities.

“It will help prepare me for my future education by giving me experiences in sustainable agriculture and knowledge to share with my future students,” Kimmitt said. She said she expected to be more prepared in the field of renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, something many other students would not have access to.

Another TECH Center student, Alex Gust, who studies forestry, credited the program with giving him tools to succeed and said the new campus would benefit students even more.

“My dream of pursuing my education in forestry began here,” he said. “Thank you for the role you have played. On behalf of all the students, thank you for the wonderful opportunities that have helped prepare us for the future.”

Patty Cantu, from the Michigan Department of Education/Career Technical Education Department, encouraged the district to apply for the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award, which recognizes schools for reducing environmental impact and costs, improve the health and wellness of students and staff and for providing effective environmental and sustainable education.

“This award is for schools that are doing what you are already doing here,” Cantu said. She added that she anticipates that the Center for a Sustainable Future will become a lab school that will attract others. “I anticipate that the students who attend here will be our future sustainable energy experts, and they will be the ones to invent new processes, equipment and technology that will move us further, not only as a state, but as a country.”

Valerie Brader, Deputy Legal Council and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of the Governor brought Gov. Rick Snyder’s congratulations. “It’s wonderful to see the amount of community involvement in this,” said Brader.

Congressman Tim Walberg said he felt “immense pride” that this “first” was taking place near his home in Tipton. “You have traditions to carry on,” he said to Kimmitt and Gust, “but this is much more than just agriculture. We’re talking about making education unique and providing forward thinking opportunities that will benefit all of us and into the future.”

LISD Board President Howard Keller said that the district is planning a public open house in the fall, and would be open to the entire community to come and see the Center for a Sustainable Future.




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