Reducing School Energy Use, Part 2: Getting to work on our goals

April 12, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

 

My energy club has decided to take action to reduce the amount of energy used at our school. I am journaling our steps and progress here at the IEA website to possibly serve as a template that can be used by others who would like to do something similar at their schools.

If you are doing something similar at your school, please let us know so that we can share your ideas as well.  For those looking to see all the parts of this ongoing journal in one place simply use the search box at this website to search for, “Aliso Niguel High School Energy Club Project.”

In this post I will address one of our primary energy club goals from part 1 of this series –Reducing the amount of energy used by teachers in their classrooms.

It seems logical that we should first attempt to measure how much energy is being used in our classrooms by devices that are not hardwired into the school since changes in this kind of energy use might be easiest to make. Items of interest include computers, small refrigerators, microwaves, etc, but not, for example, overhead lighting and air conditioning. These measurements can then be compared with how much energy is used after changes are made.

Our school has well over 3,500 students with over 100 classrooms, a lunch room, a gym, offices, common areas, etc. So measuring energy use is going to be a big job. Our tool of choice is the “Kill A Watt” energy meter which is easy to use and gives a variety of information on energy being used, such as kilowatts and cost per hour, per day, per week, per month, and per year to operate a plugged in device. We decided to test measuring by trying it out only on a few classrooms. Turned out, this was a good idea. Not only was it a challenge to find a classroom that was open before or after school, but when we did find an open classroom, we also had to face a variety of comments from teachers who overall were supportive, but feared that if the testing wasn’t done correctly, they would look like energy wasting criminals. By testing several classrooms, we were also able to figure out about how long it would take to get the measuring done throughout the school, what we wanted on a form we ended up creating to help in recording the information, and a rotation schedule for our club members to perform the measurements.

"Kill A Watt" electrical energy measuring meter

Now we are ready to move forward on a larger scale. I will present the results here once we are done. The plan will be to then present our findings to the schools, make recommendations, and to try to help make the changes.

Interesting energy study: Test score results were analyzed for over 21,000 students from three elementary school districts in California, Colorado, and Washington State. Results from the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, California, indicated that in one year, students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% on reading tests (Prepared by the Heschong Mahone Group for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. “Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Daylighting and Human Performance.” 20 August 1999. 26 February 2004 http://www.h-m-g.com/Daylighting/main.htm). This is particularly interesting to my energy club since we are in Aliso Niguel High School located in Capistrano Unified School District.

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Category: Energy Club Activities

About the Author ()

I am in my second year of a five year combination BS physics/math and MS systems engineering program offered jointly through Haverford College and UPenn. Helping my community is a lot of fun and means a great deal to me. Through the IEA and other efforts, I've come to learn how much power many can have when there is a clear positive vision, motivation and momentum. "There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." — Mark Twain

Comments (3)

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  1. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in reality was once a amusement account it. Glance complicated to more brought agreeable from you! However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  2. Very interesting! I am an Energy Specialist in my school district and am looking for interesting ways to include the student population in our energy conservation efforts. Your “energy club” seems like a good start. I’m very curious to see how it progresses.

    Good Luck!

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      Thanks for reaching out, Ms. Threadgill. I’ve been involved in environment programs in our schools since 7th grade when I initiated a green program at my middle school –this green program has now been modeled by many other schools in our district, and it helps raise money for the schools. But it was when I got involved in our city green program through the city planning department, and my subsequent urban study in Shanghai that I learned how large a role energy plays in virtually every green environment endeavor. I even discovered that an energy consulting team conducted a study here in our school district years ago and discovered that test scores increase when students have natural lighting in their classrooms. I might suggest that one way to help students get involved is to have them join our IEA organization. It’s a great way for students to learn more and develop their writing skills by contributing posts and pages. Our organization provides room for students to assume creative and flexible roles in energy projects which are then acknowledged by our IEA. We are happy to help your students -just have them contact us.

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