One depressing thing about middle school is that you never go on field trips, except for our big trip to North Carolina in the 8th grade. But we got to take one for our Writing Workshop class-and it lasted all day!
Our first stop was Georgia Power Plant McDonough, where they announced in 2006 that they are making the switch from coal to natural gas. To do this, they had to build a nineteen-foot pipeline from the plant to Union City, which they said took a couple of years. Apparently natural gas has 50% less emissions. Here are the specific emission rate reductions: 99% nitrogen oxide, 95% sulfur oxide, 100% mercury, and 50% carbon dioxide. A Ms. Farner introduced us to the plant and their project with making the switch with a slideshow presentation. After learning about the plant and what the switch would cause, we saw the control room (where temperatures and such are monitored) and went to the roof to have an aerial view of the construction. We had to wear hard hats, safety glasses, and ear plugs, since we were walking by many of the machines, which were even pretty loud with ear protection! (You can learn more about Plant McDonough and their switch to natural gas here.)
Next our twenty-five-student group (gasp! 25 13 and 14-year-olds at a restaurant?!?!) went to 5 Seasons Restaurant for lunch, since it provided locally-grown and organic food. Everybody said their food tasted delicious, and actually tasted real. I had the Vidalia Onion Turkey Burger, and if you ever go there, I would recommend it.
Our last stop was the Southface Institute, a non-for-profit organization that promotes sustainability. Their website says: “Southface is a nonprofit organization that for more than 30 years energy-, water-, and resource-efficient workplaces, homes and communities throughout the Southeast.” We got a tour of their building, which was 90% more efficient than other office buildings that size (about 10,000 sq ft). The actual office space had virtually no lights on-the only one was from a desk far away from the windows. The windows, walls, and ceiling were designed to that light bounces around the room more, eliminating the need for electric lights. The building also has what they call solar tubes, which focuses light from the green roof (picture below) through a lot of magnifying glasses into the office. There are other features like motion-sensor lights, composting toilets, and counters in doorways to determine how many people are in a room and how much air conditioning is needed. (The hyperlink doesn’t seem to be working, so Southface’s website is southface.org.)
This trip really brought home many of the things we’ve learned this past semester. Leaving this class is going to be so hard, and I think it will be for everyone else.
THANK YOU MR. MEYER AND MS. DOBBS!!!!! (and for putting up with my terrible memory of schedules!)