Southern California Green Schools Save Nearly $1 Million in Energy Costs

At a time of unprecedented budget cuts and teacher layoffs in California, the Alliance's California Green Schools Program has been saving school districts a significant amount of money on their energy bills by training students to make their schools more energy efficient.

During the 2009-2010 school year, Green Schools empowered students at 54 schools in three Southern California districts – Lake Elsinore, Temecula and Murrieta – to become energy efficiency advocates.  These student advocates conduct energy assessments and take the message of energy efficiency to their peers, teachers and community. Hundreds of primary and secondary school students saved more than 5.7 million kWh of energy, nearly $1 million in energy costs and more than 2,800 tons of CO2 emissions.

Lake Elsinore District Pays Back Schools That Save Money, Energy

In a breakout first year with Green Schools, the Lake Elsinore Unified School District saved a program-wide record of 9.1 million kWh and more than $308,000 in cost savings in 2009-2010. In a show of tremendous support from the school district, Superintendent Frank Passarella paid back 70 percent of schools' energy savings, giving $216,000 to the schools that engaged in energy-saving activities.

Enthused by last year's success, Passarella surprised teachers and administrators this year by announcing the district will return a whopping 80 percent of the savings to the schools.

Lake Elsinore's Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Greg Bowers also has shown strong support for the Green Schools Program.

“We teach the kids how to unplug things. They've even come up with [energy] citations for teachers,” Bowers said, adding that students “made this happen, and now they are going home and sharing it, and it is going out in the community.”

Temecula Valley, Murrieta Valley Districts Save Thousands of Dollars

The Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley school districts shined in their second year of participation in Green Schools. Temecula Valley schools saved an impressive average of 16.7 percent in energy use, equivalent to more than 3.3 million kWh, and a cost-savings of $543,136.

Meanwhile, Murrieta Valley schools reduced energy use by 16.3 percent, equivalent to 255,539 kWh, saving the district $33,121.

Green Schools Lead Students in Energy Efficiency

These great energy-saving results were achieved by the students themselves, with the strong support of the Green Schools Program. Through the program, Green Schools students lead the way in spreading the energy efficiency message in their schools and communities. After Green Schools educators teach students about energy and train them to use energy assessment tools, students find creative solutions to change behavior, such as:

  • conducting energy assessments of their schools,
  • giving presentations at school assemblies,
  • developing energy policies,
  • organizing poster contests with innovative award incentives, and
  • producing skits to perform in front of peers and parents.

Green Schools students also are exposed to green career opportunities through presentations from professionals in the field, career fairs and classroom instruction.

The Generation of Energy-Efficient Advocates

The Alliance is looking forward to even more energy savings this 2010-2011 academic year, with 66 participating schools in the Southern California Edison territory.

This year's participants include 32 first-year schools in the Chino Valley Unified School District, 15 first-year schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, 16 returning Lake Elsinore schools, and three “mentor” schools from the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.