Solar panels at early learning academy

By Michael Green

For the Globe-Times

TULALIP – The Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy recently celebrated the installation of four large solar panels on campus.

The Board of Directors, TELA director Sheryl Fryberg and Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Marie Zackuse cut the ribbon to help the tribes move toward green energy.

Bonnie Juneau, a Tulalip board member, said: “This is about showing our community what is possible with solar energy… From here on out, all of our buildings will be south-facing roofs because that is the best for capturing solar energy.

“This is also about teaching our children the exciting things you can do with math and science. If they are learning about energy today imagine what they will produce in the next twenty years.”

Tami Burdett, Montessori 3-to-5 manager, talked about training.

“Bonneville provided a full day of training for all of our preschool teachers and assistants. They also provided solar ovens where the kids made cookies and S’mores, and everyone loved it.”

Zackuse, talking about future solar projects, said: “One of the biggest building projects coming up at Tulalip is a new Gathering Hall for our membership. Ensuring we have the possibility of ‘going green’ by using solar and other energy-efficient construction elements is best for the future of the tribe.”

The Tulalip Renewable School Project had three goals:

•Ensure teachers’ are well-trained and have confidence in how to provide age-appropriate renewable energy education to students.

•Engage students natural curiosity while building knowledge in renewable energy.

•Inspire family, friends, tribal leaders and the community while promoting the possibility of energy sovereignty.

This is not the first step Tulalip has taken to become more energy self-sufficient.

The Qualco Energy site in Monroe has been active since 2008. The tribe and dairy farmers formed a nonprofit to operate and fund an anaerobic digester.

The machine takes animal waste and other pollutants and burns the methane gas to create energy.

Also, the Tulalip Tribes administration building was completed in 2009 and has been slowly adding sustainable features.

Geothermal heat pumps were installed that circulate hot water through tubes that are cooled by the naturally low ground temperature of earth.

Working like an air conditioner that pulls hot air from inside to outside, the ground heat pumps send hot water out of the building into wells.

The building also features several rain gardens in the parking lot.

The system provides a green landscape that helps filter out pollutants. Plants break down and remove toxins, oils and heavy metals that are in water runoff from the parking lot.