Manor Elementary in Fairfax, Calif., Wins Top Energy Efficiency Prize in Alliance to Save Energy's Earth Apple Awards Program

Release Date: Thursday, October 23, 2003

With blackouts and rising energy prices sparking widespread interest in reducing energy use, the Alliance to Save Energy has awarded its 2002-2003 Golden Apple Award to Manor Elementary School in Fairfax, Calif., for taking no-cost actions to cut its electric bills by $4,279, or 16 percent. The school district will return half of the amount saved to the school, where students, custodians, and teachers identified energy waste. The Golden Apple Award is the highest honor in the Alliance Green Schools program's annual Earth Apple Awards competition. Manor also placed first among elementary schools.

The Earth Apple Awards, sponsored by ABB, Inc., a global corporation with a strong interest in energy efficiency, acknowledge the accomplishments of K-12 schools in energy-efficiency instruction, energy-saving operations, and school-wide involvement in energy-saving activities. Manor Elementary's students have spread the word about energy efficiency throughout the school, to parents, and to the community at large, including the school board.

Manor's energy education program is focused in the fourth grade class of Laura Honda, who refers to her students as “experts on the different sources of energy, the consequences of non-renewable energy use on our environment, and how to conserve energy and make environmentally-friendly choices about energy use.” The students' expertise, along with an extensive list of environmental and energy activities, was enough to impress the Earth Apple Awards judges: ABB Vice President Kathie Boettrich, U.S. Department of Energy Science Education Advisor Todd Clark, and Project Learning Tree Director Kathy McGlauflin.

When the school district proposed adding air-conditioning to the school, the students surveyed staff and discovered that most teachers and staff in their mild climate preferred to use fans and open their windows to the breeze rather than have air conditioning in the school. Students prepared a presentation to the school board outlining their opposition to the “improvement” and citing their own, more energy-efficient, ways of keeping cool. The board did not change its decision, but students learned that their viewpoint was shared by many in the community.

Honda, who was named the 2001 Distinguished Science Teacher by the California Science Teacher's Association, tries to set a good example for her students, riding her Honda 80 scooter to school when weather permits. And Honda's classroom clearly is an energy-conscious place, with very few extra appliances. “We always keep one-third of the lights off,” she says, because light meters show there is enough light from the windows to do classroom work.