Media Release

Direct Energy Joins Alliance to Save Energy to Promote Energy Efficiency Education through Green Schools Program

Release Date: Monday, August 29, 2011

Partnership Estimated to Reduce Energy Costs by 5-15% at
Eight North Penn School District Locations 

Lansdale, Pa., August 29, 2011 – Direct Energy, the largest competitive retailer of energy and energy-related services in North America, is helping to fund the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools program at eight North Penn School District locations in Montgomery County, Pa. 

As part of this initiative, teachers and other school district employees are attending an educational conference on energy efficiency today at the Community Partners Building, where they will learn how to save electricity through small, individual actions – knowledge that they will then pass along to students in the participating schools: North Penn High School, Penndale Middle School, Pennbrook Middle School, Bridle Path Elementary School, Gwyn-Nor Elementary School, Oak Park Elementary School, Hatfield Elementary School and A M Kulp Elementary School.

The two-year Montgomery County program is part of a Pennsylvania-wide Green Schools Program which also involves eight Pittsburgh area schools.

Teaching, Learning and Saving

“The Green Schools program not only teaches young people about the importance of effective, efficient use of energy, but also demonstrates firsthand the significance that small, individual actions can have on their school, in their home and in the community,” said Cory Byzewski, vice president and GM of US North for Direct Energy.

Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan applauds the collaboration with Direct Energy and the North Penn School District. “Our Green Schools Program’s success includes thousands of programs across the country and tens of thousands of student participants who are helping to save school districts between 5 and 15% in energy costs with energy efficiency,” Callahan said.

“With a 15-year track record, we know that this partnership will pay off in North Penn too – not just with energy savings, but also with energy knowledge that will benefit the school system and the wider community for years to come,” she added.

Energy costs are one of the most significant expenses schools must budget for and can far exceed what is spent on textbooks and other supplies and activities critical to learning.  The objective of the Green Schools Program is simple but powerful – educate and empower students, teachers, administrators and custodial staff to make a difference in their school’s energy usage. During the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, the Montgomery County program will teach those individuals in the participating schools how to conduct their daily activities in more energy-efficient ways.   

“We believe in education that broadens our students’ creative and critical thinking skills, allowing them to positively affect the world by transferring understanding learned here to future applications, so we are excited about this program,” said Dr. Curtis R. Dietrich, superintendent, North Penn School District. “And, of course, the projected cost savings of 5 to 15% per year are very important to us.”

Green Lessons in Classrooms

The program begins with today’s training session for teachers, custodians and administrators.  The school then becomes a learning lab where students study energy efficiency, assess energy use in their school and apply science, math and language arts to solve problems and make improvements. 

Students also learn that the smallest actions, such as installing energy-efficient vending machines and turning off lights in rooms that are not in use, can have a large impact in both dollars saved and pollution reduced and can save thousands of dollars in avoided electricity costs.

The Green Schools Program has four over-arching goals:

  1. Save energy and lower school energy costs by having students implement no-cost behavioral and operational changes;
  2. Strengthen student learning by integrating energy topics into K-12 curricula and creating student advocates for energy efficiency who understand the links among energy, the environment and the economy;
  3. Educate the whole school community about the value and cost of energy, and involve that broad community in energy-saving projects to create sustainable institutional awareness and participation that will endure beyond the Green Schools Program; and
  4. Engage students as advocates for energy efficiency improvements in their homes and communities.

The North Penn School District Green Schools Program will be supported by local Alliance to Save Energy Project Leader Jaqui Baxter, who will help the schools implement the goals of the Green Schools Program and support the students as they learn and develop their own energy-saving projects.

“The concept of energy efficiency is so abstract,” says Megan Campion, program manager for the Alliance to Save Energy. “The Green Schools Program makes it understandable to students with concrete examples of basic changes they can make to their routines, which consequently helps schools save valuable energy dollars.”