Over the course of six weeks, we will share with you a whole year’s worth of ideas for your school’s Green Teams! Check back every week, and download a PDF of the entire 12-month plan at the end of the series!
If you missed the first installments of our Month-by-Month School Green Team Tasks, click here to start from the beginning. If you’ve read them, we hope that means you’ve organized your team, completed your building walk-throughs, and are ready for more! Keep reading for some suggested tasks for July and August.
For many school districts, July and August are times when there are not a lot of staff members around. Teachers and much of your school-year only staff have taken off for these two months. This doesn’t mean that school districts are completely deserted though! Many district staff are year round employees, and the empty buildings make for an ideal environment to make large-scale changes. Even if your Green Team is minimal during these summer months, there are big things that can be accomplished!
July: Focus on IT
Computers are one of the biggest energy users in any school district – there are probably several computers in each of your buildings. This means major opportunity for savings! Start by speaking with your IT manager about system-wide settings. Do all machines shut down automatically at night? Is there a standard time set for sleep mode? Do computers needs to be up and running to do updates? How many laptops vs desktops are in your building? If you don’t have an on staff IT manager, find out who runs your technology. It may be an outside company – if so, start with the contact person at your district that deals with this company. Consider these simple tips, and head to this blog post to learn more about saving energy and money via computers:
- Shut down computers nightly. It’s a myth that shutting down computers too often can cause damage. Modern machines are meant to withstand 40,000 on/off cycles!
- Monitors use the majority of energy consumed by desktop units – be sure staff and students are turning off monitors not just nightly, but anytime they are away from a computer.
- Not convinced that shutting down computers can save you big bucks? Check out this example from a CLASS 5 school client (Computer-Costs-Calculations-Flier) showing just how fast it can add up!
August: Tackle plug load
Plug load is one of the biggest energy and money wasting culprits of all time. But what exactly is it? You may have also heard the terms “Vampire Energy” or “Standby Power”– these all refer to the same thing: energy (typically electricity) being drawn by items that are plugged in, but not in use. You may think that just because you’ve hit the off switch, that your electronics are not sucking any power from the outlet – but often times, that is not the case. Things such as projectors, SMARTboards, chargers, printers, coffee makers and microwaves all draw a constant stream of power, even when completely shut down. Take a look around a typical classroom in your district – how many items are plugged in right now? How many of those items are used every day? How many are directly related to teaching and learning? How many could be unplugged each night, or over weekends, when school buildings are closed? Consider lowering plug load by simply eliminating items that are not needed. Take this time to do a plug-load audit of your district. Record what type of items are plugged in and where. Note special teaching equipment, such as kilns or power tools. Make note of what is necessary, and what kind of personal additions you are finding. For example, you may find that there are several personal mini fridges in classrooms, individual space heaters or personal printers. Consider asking staff to either consolidate and share, or remove these items all together. Come up with a district-wide plan to provide community fridges, printers or other conveniences to serve your entire staff. A good rule of thumb when discovering plug-load culprits is to look for constant displays: Does your coffee maker have a clock, or your radio have an indicator light that tells you it’s off? If so – these items are contributing to plug load. Ask your district if there is a way to provide power-strips for each work space or classroom. By plugging multiple items into one strip, you can easily unplug many things all at once.
When school is back in session, have a communication written and ready to distribute about plug load. Make reducing plug load one of your main priorities for the next school year!
Miss a post? No problem – here’s the year’s plan so far: