Alliance to Save Energy Honors DC Public Schools for ‘Winning’ Efforts To Save Energy & Money, Educate Kids about Energy Efficiency | Alliance to Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy Honors DC Public Schools for ‘Winning’ Efforts To Save Energy & Money, Educate Kids about Energy Efficiency

Release Date: Thursday, May 7, 2009

Washington, D.C., May 7, 2009 – This evening, DC Council Members Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward 5) and Mary Cheh (Ward 3) joined the Alliance to Save Energy and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) in presenting awards to four District public schools for exemplary energy-efficiency curricula and saving energy and money with energy-efficiency achievements. The awards ceremony marked the completion of the first year of the Alliance’s Saving Energy in DC Schools (SEDS) program.

The local SEDS program – part of the Alliance’s nationwide Green Schools program – engages students, teachers, facilities staff, and administrators at 15 local schools in learning about the importance of energy efficiency while actively pursuing energy-saving opportunities in their school buildings.

The winning schools, announced at a ceremony at the Marian Koshland Science Museum, are Horace Mann Elementary school; Oyster Adams Bilingual School’s Adams Campus (grades K-8); Capital City Public Charter School’s Upper Campus (grades 6-10); and Key Elementary School. They were recognized for outstanding work in three categories: overall best energy audit report (Horace Mann – first place; Oyster Adams – second place); curriculum (Capital City), and outreach (Key). For placing first in the overall audit report category, Horace Mann will receive a real-time energy monitoring system.

“The Alliance commends the achievements of the local DC schools in our national Green Schools program,” said Alliance Executive Vice President for Programs and Development Brian Castelli. “We are delighted to have schools ‘in our own backyard’ emphasize energy efficiency – not only in lessons in the classroom, but also in ‘hands-on’ energy-saving projects – and to see the next generation carry on the Alliance’s 30-plus-year commitment to saving energy and money, sustainability, and smaller carbon footprints.”

In addition to the Council members and Castelli, participants at the awards ceremony were Sharon Cooke, director of community and education outreach, DDOE; James H. DeGraffenreidt, Jr., chairman and CEO, Washington Gas; Dr. Michael Kaspar, director of science, District of Columbia Public Schools; and Commissioner Rick Morgan, DC Public Service Commission.

Noted Cooke: “The Green Schools partnership between DDOE and the Alliance was a win-win situation for everyone involved. We were happy to have the Alliance join DDOE as foot soldiers to promote the concept of energy conservation to students and teachers. We knew our partnership was a success, because the students were really engaged.”

“It is extremely gratifying to see the immediate success of the Alliance’s new SEDS program,” commented DeGraffenreidt. “This success exemplifies not only the need for our young people to understand the importance of saving energy, but also it provides them with the platform to play a leading role in this effort.”

Students participating in SEDS conducted “before” and “after” energy audits to measure the results of the energy-efficiency steps implemented at their schools. A two-minute synopsis of the measures at each school was presented at the awards event, and the audit results were exhibited.

“Not only is the SEDS program producing tangible savings of energy and money for DC schools. It’s also enabling students to learn, right in their own schools, how they can make a difference by saving energy and protecting the environment,” Morgan said.

“Energy is arguably the most important social and political issue of the 21st century, and our students must be prepared to understand conservation and alternative energy sources,” said Kaspar. Programs such as this provide a way for students to demonstrate the scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills necessary to meet the difficult challenges of developing clean energy.”

The winners were honored for the following achievements:

  • Horace Mann earned first prize for overall energy audit thanks to the 6th graders who collected extensive data on temperature, light levels, and wattage of appliances and then calculated electricity costs for each classroom. Students summarized their findings and made energy-efficiency recommendations for each audited classroom; alerted the principal to energy-efficiency opportunities in common spaces such as hallways, bathrooms, and the school office; and shared findings with the community at an Earth Day celebration.
  • Oyster-Adams Bilingual School’s Adams Campus received second place in the overall energy audit category. Students in the SEAT program had discovered that the excess heat being given off by the school’s un-insulated heating pipes were causing teachers to run air conditioning units in the winter. Once pipes were insulated, temperatures returned to comfortable levels without wasting energy. Seventh-grade students did a complete intermediate campus energy audit, including offices, common areas, and most classrooms. Their audit report analyzed historical energy and price trends, calculated the cost of common appliances throughout the school, and assessed light-levels and costs.
  • Capital City Public Charter School’s Upper Campus won in the curriculum category for embedding energy lessons in a Green Building Expedition program from November to April. This included participation in the National Building Museum’s Be a Green Builder Program; creation of a small building with many green features; and consultation with energy experts and Internet research on the pros and cons of various energy sources. After taking Student Energy Audit Training (SEAT), they presented their findings on how much each classroom could save with energy efficiency measures – information they will share with the school’s board, as it considers the design of a new school building.
  • Key Elementary’s outreach award recognized the entire school’s involvement in a 45-minute “Power Down” to save energy during Earth Week by turning lights off and the leadership of the school’s 16-member Green Team, which took the reins of the audit process. After learning how to use audit tools, the Green Team compiled an inventory of devices that use electricity, tested surface temperatures of various devices, and collected temperature and humidity data in classrooms and light-level data throughout the school. The team also involved teachers by posting in each classroom a list of recommended energy-efficiency steps.

The D.C. Public Service Commission authorized funding for the SEDS program through the Natural Gas Trust Fund, which uses money collected from Washington Gas customers to assist low-income customers and to promote energy efficiency.