08/06/15 :

Student Workshops Support Community-Wide Efficiency Efforts

For the past two years, the Alliance has received a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to implement the PowerSave Schools program at fifteen of Los Angeles Unified School District’s most energy intensive middle and high schools. The program teaches integrated demand side management concepts, including energy efficiency, demand response and distributed generation to empower students to promote energy conservation. During the two years of the program, Alliance staff have worked closely with students and faculty team leads to create connections between the environmental/financial costs of energy waste and easy, convenient ways to save. The successful program reinforces the idea that students can significantly influence the energy efficiency of schools by creating a culture in which energy conservation is “the new normal”.

Program at a Glance

Students who understand how energy is produced, measured and managed are better informed and prepared to help make an impact on building energy use. Completing standards-based lessons featuring interactive, hands-on application exercises throughout the program’s implementation gave students the tools to supercharge school energy savings and build valuable vocational skills. Students completed a wide range of lessons that incorporated follow-up activities directly related to their campus energy-conservation campaign, turning the school into a living laboratory in the process.     

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, and energy audit training gave students the chance to collect data illuminating key behavior-based savings opportunities. School teams participated in daylong Student Energy Audit Training (SEAT) workshops, during which they conducted walk-through energy audits of their campus with the supervision of an Alliance Local Project Leader (LPL). SEAT workshops allowed participants to apply their energy knowledge and hone STEM skills as they created data-based reports quantifying the effects of proposed energy conservation measures. Students found major saving opportunities, including a heated outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool without a cover, unseasonal HVAC settings, computer labs with machines left in active mode, outdoor security lighting left on permanently and more.  

Armed with data from their audits, students set about promoting energy efficiency in other ways. The PowerSave Schools team at Santee High created a social media campaign featuring “energy selfies,” in which students were encouraged to take photos of themselves saving energy at school and at home. At Franklin High, students formed a weekend energy-shut down patrol, visiting classrooms and offices on Fridays to remind staff to shut down electronics before leaving.

PowerSave Students in the Community

As the students saw successes gain momentum on campus, they turned their attention outwards to include family and community members. At Eagle Rock High, students created an energy auditing certificate for local businesses, visiting 55 sites in one month to deliver energy saving recommendations. Student teams from Santee High, Franklin High and Eagle Rock High presented final energy savings reports to officials at the offices at LADWP. In what was one of the program’s highlights, students from Santee High and Columbus Middle School visited local elementary schools to demonstrate how to conduct an energy audit and encourage the next generation to be energy-efficient. The efforts of PowerSave Schools student teams did not go unnoticed. In the summer of 2014, Emiliano Vera, a senior at Santee High, was awarded the Sue Embry Community Activist Scholarship by the United Teachers of Los Angeles in recognition of his work to promote energy efficiency in the community.