Dozens of passionate and dedicated Eagle Valley students and teachers went above and beyond academic requirements last year to find ways to save energy at school. They are part of a growing coalition of Eco-Schools joining the Eagle Valley’s journey toward sustainability. Together, schools have saved over $11,500 in their energy bills in the past two years all thanks to the hard work of the student lead Eco-Teams at participating schools.
In 2015-2016, ten Eagle Valley schools embarked on an energy-saving odyssey. Eco-Teams at each participating school began with an energy audit, collecting data to determine how much electricity and natural gas their building and its occupants consume every year.
Arms full of clipboards, pencils, and Kill-A-Watt meters, students recorded wattage information from light bulbs, projectors, microwaves, and computers. They sent emails and conducted interviews asking teachers how long lights glowed and electronics hummed each day. They also looked at utility bills and, in the end, had a picture of the building’s annual energy use and cost.
As they analyzed the school’s audit data, Eco-Team members began to see ways to cut energy use and save money. Some of their energy saving strategies aimed to inform and educate, while others actively involved students and staff in turning off and powering down the building’s “energy vampires” (electronics that consume energy even when turned off.)
But Eco-Team members did not stop with a list of good ideas. They set about putting their plans into action and scores of creative projects emerged among the 10 participating schools. Some of their projects included:
● Sharing energy information with students, staff, and families in newsletters, bulletin boards, blogs, movies, and school-wide public service announcements.
● Giving presentations at assemblies and staff and PTA meetings.
● Enacting special “power-downs” prior to school vacations by working with staff and helping unplug “energy vampires” .
● Using grant money to make energy efficiency upgrades such as replacing incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs and purchasing power strips to make powering down classrooms easier for teachers and students.
● Hosting lights-out days to demonstrate savings achieved by turning out lights.
● Creating bookmarks for the library promoting ways to save energy.
● Creating signage reminding building occupants to turn off lights and computers.
● Picking up trash and coordinating with custodians to vacuum fewer days each week.
● Implementing a Power Patrol system to involve everyone in the school. They created checklists for each classroom, asked teachers to assign students to turn off lights, power down electronics, close windows and doors at the end of the school day, and record their efforts on the checklist.
In the end, the hard work of their action plans payed off. A review of the end-of-year data revealed a drop in energy use and nearly $12,000 in energy savings over the past two years between 4 of the schools.
Saving money for schools is just one of the perks of the Eco-Schools program. Students also have the opportunity to become leaders at school and set examples for environmental stewardship. Eco-Team members practice valuable communication skills and collaboratively apply critical-thinking and problem-solving to real-world problems. And for the community, these young Eco-Champions are making a difference by contributing to a broader effort to secure the Eagle Valley’s sustainable future.
Walking Mountains Science Center is providing $500 mini-grants for Eagle Valley schools that commit to earning an Eco-Schools award. Learn more and apply for the grant here.
Learn more about each participating Eagle Valley school at www.walkingmountains.org/ecoschools. Eco Schools is generously funded by Eagle County Eco-Build Fund and Vail Resort's Epic Promise.
2014-2016 Energy Savings at Eagle Valley Schools