Edwards Elementary powers down over break | VailDaily.com

Edwards Elementary powers down over break

Daily staff report
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EDWARDS — A Thanksgiving “power-down” project to save electricity at Edwards Elementary School over the holiday break has resulted in an estimated $250 in savings.

The power-down started on Friday, Nov. 21, when fourth and fifth grade students in the Edwards Eco-Action Team searched the school to shut down unnecessary electric-powered equipment and devices for the nine-day break. With the help of CLEER’s Building Energy Navigator website, they are now sizing up the results.

“On the weekend days, the savings was about 8 to 9 percent, and on the weekdays, the savings was about 40 percent,” said Mike Ogburn, energy engineer with CLEER.

“As the week went on, those savings added up,” said Ogburn. His early estimate, based on the school’s Navigator readings, is that the school will achieve about $250 in savings for the holiday week power-down.

The Edwards Eco-Action Team students are already coming up with ideas for doing an even better power-down for the Christmas break, he said.

When students get involved in saving energy at their schools, they learn how energy is used in buildings, and how conserving energy resources helps the environment, he said. And when school districts save money on energy bills, they have more tax dollars available for their primary mission of education.

The money-saving power-down is the result of two projects in the Eagle County School District working together.

The first is CLEER’s facility energy coaching and its installation of the Building Energy Navigator energy tracking systems at 10 schools in the district, funded by Eagle County.The second is the Eco Schools educational program, a National Wildlife Federation program being delivered in four schools by Walking Mountains Science Center and funded by a grant from Vail Resorts. The program includes a required unit on energy.

A $58,000 grant from Eagle County’s Eco-Build Program funded the installation of Navigator hardware and software. The grant also paid for energy coaching by CLEER staff for the school district’s facilities staff, faculty and students.

The installations were done over the summer, and eight schools are now equipped with data loggers on their gas and electric meters to track energy use in 15-minute intervals. Actual monthly energy bill data is being collected and displayed for 10 of the district’s 15 schools.

School district staff helped in the installation process and also gave CLEER permission to request two years of utility bill history from gas and electric utilities, which was loaded into the Navigator system to provide a baseline for energy-saving projects going forward.

Edwards Elementary is the first school in the Eagle district to run a power-down experiment, guided by Ogburn and by Cindy Tibble, Eco-Schools coordinator for Walking Mountains Science Center. Edwards Elementary teachers Katie Leibig and Jeanine Kenney are leading the Eco-Action Team working on the project.

“We also worked on a summer power-down last spring,” said Tibble. “This Thanksgiving experiment is the first time we’ve been able to view the results on the Navigator.”

In addition to monthly Eco-Schools classes, Leibig, Kenney and Tibble presented an all-day Eco-Institute on a Saturday that was focused on energy and energy conservation. And at Edwards Elementary, the Eco-Action Team has asked each class in the school to assign a “power patrol.” These students in all grades make sure their classrooms are shut down at the end of the school day, with lights out and electronics turned off or unplugged.

“I’ve observed a great deal of enthusiasm from this group about hands-on projects that will lead to actual change for their school,” said Tibble.

With the success at Edwards Elementary, CLEER’s Mike Ogburn is encouraging other schools in the district to run similar power-down experiments.

And the Eco-Schools program is expanding as well, Tibble said, with four more schools wanting to start an Eco-Action Team in the next month or two.

For more info on the Eco-Schools program in Eagle County, contact Cindy Tibble at cindyt@walkingmountains.org or 970-827-9725 ext. 136. Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program at http://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA/About-Eco-Schools-USA.aspx.