Students in Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Program Cut $23,000 from NY School’s Energy Costs

Release Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Savings Returned to School for Educational Purposes

Derek Guard is a senior at Iroquois High School, a medium-size school near Buffalo, NY. Like many high school students, he is involved with a number of school programs and activities. But one program, the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools Program, helped Derek and his fellow students save their school more than $23,000 in energy bills last year by making simple, no-cost behavioral and operational changes. They are expecting to see at least as much savings this year.

"Green Schools is a terrific program with immediate benefits, both educationally as well as environmentally," said Dr. Michael Glover, superintendent of schools for the Iroquois District. "The entire community is benefiting from the program. Many of the students are practicing what they learn at home and the local tax payers are also seeing the reduced energy costs."

The Alliance’s Green Schools Program brings students, teachers, and custodians together to decrease energy bills and pollution and increase school comfort. The success of the program comes primarily from the people in the school making simple behavioral adjustments, such as turning out lights, and minor retrofits to the school itself.

The savings for Iroquois High through the basic Green Schools Program could be seen immediately, saving nearly $19,000 two years ago. The high school increased its savings last year by adding the Saving Through Energy Management (STEM) program. The STEM program brought experts to the school for a five-day training period where students learned the correct way to analyze and measure the amount of energy the school wasted. After the training, the students were certified to carry out an official school energy audit and teach what they learned to other Iroquois schools. The students at Iroquois High will present the findings and recommendations from their school audit at an upcoming board of education meeting to encourage the board to provide support for further school retrofits.

"What better way for students to actively participate in the total energy focus of Earth Day 2000, the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, than to apply energy-efficient behaviors and methods to their own schools," stated Alliance President David M. Nemtzow. "Plus, when these behaviors are applied, schools can see up to a 20 percent reduction in energy bills."

From September 1998 to July 1999, the six schools in the Iroquois School District involved with the Green Schools Program saved a total of $48,623 in electricity and natural gas bills. Half of that money went directly back to the school while the other half went to the general facilities budget.

"From my perspective, dollars aren’t everything in this situation," said Larry Bishop, superintendent of buildings and grounds. "The program bridges the gap between custodians and the academic front. Teachers and students see what it takes to maintain a school, and the custodians learn what it’s like to be in the classroom."

The future of the program looks good, according to Karen Kibler, project coordinator for the Green Schools Program at Iroquois High, because very little is required to maintain the program after the initial costs of setting it up, and the savings from behavioral changes are free. Although there may be additional costs for the school from efficiency retrofits, the students and staff understanding how to maintain and use the retrofits correctly will generate the maximum savings in the shortest time.

"We are going on our third year of the program and despite renovations to a number of the Iroquois schools, we are still seeing major savings," concluded Kibler about the savings Green Schools has generated. "But the program is about hands-on, practical application of math and science too. Green Schools is extremely effective in changing energy-efficient behavior into everyday practice."