Oak Hall School Biodiesel Project
(Environmental Protection Agency) President’s Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) Winner: Oak Hall School Gainesville, Florida - The Oak Hall School Biodiesel Project began as a science fair project to collect and process used vegetable oil (UVO) into biodiesel fuel for the school’s diesel-powered lawn equipment and eventually, school buses. With the dedication of several high school students, the project evolved into a plan to build a student-operated biodiesel facility on the school campus as an effort to pursue alternative energy sources and to encourage school-wide environmental stewardship.
Members of the Oak Hall School Biodiesel Project team obtained all necessary local and state regulatory approvals for biodiesel production; raised funds for the reactor, a facility to house the reactor and supplies to manufacture biodiesel; collected more than 250 gallons of UVO; and produced over 25 gallons of biodiesel. The students also wrote an instruction manual to encourage other schools to replicate the biodiesel project.
While identifying and satisfying governmental regulations regarding biodiesel manufacture, one of the team members discovered Florida Statute 206. This statute imposes a burdensome reporting requirement and tax that may inhibit other school administrators from launching school-based biodiesel activities. The students also learned that a school may petition to have this tax refunded based on its tax exempt status. The Oak Hall School Biodiesel Project team has sought legislative relief from Statute 206. The team has obtained commitments from a Florida State senator and several members of the Florida House of Representatives to sponsor an amendment to reduce this reporting and tax hurdle. The project team is preparing a presentation for the Florida House and Senate Committees in the 2010 legislative session in support of this initiative.
Based on the demonstrated success of the project at Oak Hall School, the students continue to promote the project’s duplication in other schools and by youth organizations in Florida. READ MORE