Findings, suggestions for new buildings to be presented to School Board
As part of the National Youth Leadership Council’s Generator Go Green Initiative Grant, 34 Hurst Middle 8th grade students participated in a Student Energy Auditor Training workshop presented by the Alliance to Save Energy from Washington DC.
According to the United States Department of Energy, most school districts across the nation spend more on utilities than anything except for teacher salaries. Utilities are the largest single manageable item of a school budget.
About 25 percent of the energy used in a typical school is wasted because of energy inefficiency in its systems and operations. Having the students trained as energy auditors and performing audits on schools could lead to a monetary savings, but more importantly lead to using natural resources more efficiently.
“I think it is fantastic how easily these activities fit into our curriculum. Students are able to meet their required academics while also finding ways to reduce our electrical usage and costs,” said teacher Barry Guillot. “Each of my classes will do their own audit on our school and make recomendations for changes to be made. I am extremely interested to see what they find!”
During the training, students gained first-hand experience analyzing how energy is used at their school. Students learned about many aspects of energy efficiency and energy auditing and conducted real audits of selected areas in the school.
“People don’t realize when they are leaving lights on and being wasteful, they are not just hurting themselves with high energy bills, but they are wasting energy for everyone else” said Cole Bennett, an 8th grade student at Hurst. “I used to always walk out of the room leaving the TV on while I went to get something to eat, but now I turn off the TV every time I leave the room.”
Students will take this knowledge back to the classroom where they will be co-trainers sharing their knowledge with the rest of their science classes. After the students are proficient with the different instruments, each class will perform a thorough energy audit of the Hurst campus. The students will then create and present a report of their findings to the administration to see what changes can be made in the present building as well as proposing recommendations for the future 6th grade wing that will be built next year.
“Just on the practice audit that we did during the training, I saw so many ways that we can save energy and make our electric costs lower just through adding some weather strips below the doors!” said Paris Vinnett, an 8th grader at Hurst. “It is exciting to know that there are some small changes that can be made that make a huge difference and that my training will guide other students and the faculty into helping our school and our environment.”
“I didn’t realize how much energy was being wasted when I left my phone on the charger after it was charged.” said Hurst 8th grader Dorian Blanchard, “When I went home and told my mom and dad some of the things I learned they were shocked about how easy it is to save money with just a few simple steps and how much money they were spending unintentionally!”
Harry Hurst Middle is one of only 16 middle schools in the nation chosen to participate in the new NYLC Go Green Initiative that combines service-learning with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) based education. Partners of the new Wetland Watchers Student Energy Audit Program include Atmos Energy, Entergy, and the St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services.