Magazine article District Administration

National Green Program Empowers Kids: Students Are Being Trained to Audit and Help Conserve Electricity on District Campuses

Magazine article District Administration

National Green Program Empowers Kids: Students Are Being Trained to Audit and Help Conserve Electricity on District Campuses

Article excerpt

In late May, Olympics history was made at the refurbished 82-year-old pool at Newport Harbor High School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Orange County, Calif. The U.S. men's water polo team beat in the 2012 Olympic trials the gold-medal-winning Hungarian national team for the first time in a decade.

While the school's pool has a rich past as a proving ground for athletes growing up in the area, now it is a symbol of the district's commitment to sustainability. The recent replacement of underwater lights with energy-efficient LED lights is saving the district thousands of dollars in electrical costs each year.

"We look at sustainability as a way to provide improved service," says Timothy Marsh, the district's administrative director of facility support services. "Anything that we can do less expensively leaves dollars available for other things."

The district hired an energy manager, Kent Ramsayer, nine years ago and adopted a wide-reaching, energy conservation and management policy in 2007. "We began by promoting sustainable practices such as recycling and by implementing behavioral changes that affect the use of electricity, natural gas and water," Ramsayer says. "And we started taking advantage of local utility incentive programs that made economic sense."

Southern California Gas Company, for example, offered the district a rebate for installing superefficient pool boiler systems. A local water district helped make it possible to replace 278 traditional urinals with waterless urinals.

A particularly successful energy-efficiency incentive effort, the Green Schools Program, has allowed the district to partner with Southern California Edison for the past two years. Green Schools is a hands-on education project created by the Alliance to Save Energy, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. The program empowers K12 student volunteers who work on "green teams" with teachers, facilities staff, and a regional Alliance case manager--to become environmental stewards of their own schools. …

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