Lucy Vi and Shelagh Dinney are on a mission as they race from room to room measuring energy usage and temperature.
The Grade 6 Cedar school students are just two of a classroom full of eager students conducting an energy audit on their school.
The energy audit helps the students understand which appliances and electronics suck up the most energy and encourages them to turn off lights, computers and other technology when not in use. The audit is just one of several student-led projects that are helping to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
“I’m really pleased with the work we’ve accomplished as a district,” said Drew Williams, the school district’s environmental co-ordinator. “The recent strategic goal to become more sustainable has been a priority that students and staff have embraced.”
School District 72 has been an important partner to the city in creating the new City Energy and Emissions Plan. The plan encourages energy efficiency in buildings, renewable energy and multi-modal transportation.
The school district has been practising several of the initiatives identified in the city’s plan.
Custodians have switched to only using “green-friendly” cleaning products and biodegradable garbage bags while at the school board office, only unbleached paper towels are used. There is a composting program in nearly every school and school district office and a few schools have green teams to spread the message of the benefits of contributing to sustainable living.
Carihi student Kyell Erickson said the green team goes to the elementary schools to teach the younger students about energy conservation and encourage them to be environmental stewards. The students also hope to inspire the younger kids to start their own green teams.
“We want to promote green, we want everyone to realize it’s healthy to recycle, that it’s healthy to compost,” Erickson said.
The school district is also realizing energy savings in its operations. Lighting upgrades in Discovery Passage Elementary, Ocean Grove Elementary, Pinecrest Elementary and Sayward Elementary are estimated to save 196,500 kilowatt hours per year while an upgrade to lighting in Carihi is estimated to save 127,500 kilowatt hours per year. The district also sold off seven surplus portables which is expected to save roughly $11,000 per year in fossil fuel costs. The school district has plans to do lighting retrofits in four more schools which will be a further savings of 462,000 kilowatt hours and almost $50,000.
And the district isn’t done.
It’s currently completing a Green Information Technology study to identify further opportunities to reduce energy use and save money.