A national competition for K-12 students is driving positive change in energy habits.
by Zachary Rybarczyk
K-12 schools in America spend over $8 billion a year on energy. So they’re the perfect place to save money by implementing efficiency, conservation and green building techniques — all while educating students about energy issues.
A competition organized by the Green Schools Alliance aims to help facilitate that transition.
Across the U.S., students of all ages from kindergarten to high school are competing in the Green Cup Challenge, a four-week event that encourages schools to cut energy use. Three weeks into the event, one school has cut its electricity consumption by 17% through simple changes in behavior.
This is the fifth year of the Green Cup Challenge, which pits 116 public and private schools in 22 states against one another, tracking energy consumption during a four-week period from January 18 through February 15. The competition shows students how small tweaks in energy consumption can make a big difference.
So far the leading school, the New Roads School of Santa Monica, California, has reduced its total energy use over a three week period by 17%, through changes to thermostats, shutting off computer monitors and lamps, installing skylights, and using timers on lighting systems.
“It’s about creating habits,” said one student participating in the challenge.
Other schools have used the Green Cup Challenge to promote investments in renewable energy and efficiency projects that may have not been possible without the support of the Green Schools Alliance.
After installing a number of energy efficient technologies, including a solar PV system, a “bird-friendly” wind turbine, green roofs, and changing other energy habits, the Latin School of Chicago has seen a savings of $45,000 a year on their energy bills, and is expected to pay off its initial investment in less than 10 years.
These are just two examples among thousands. With a network of over 3,000 public and private schools (including their 2 million students) in 40 US states and 11 countries, GSA has a unique opportunity to create real change in the green movement.