Thompson Schools win $50,000 in Energy Saving Competition

Empowered students helped their schools reduce energy by 18%
March 1, 2016

Eight schools in Thompson School District in Loveland, CO competed in a unique energy saving competition in February. The top performers achieved some results never seen before –reducing their school’s energy use by over 18%–and won their share of $50,000 to make energy saving changes to their buildings.

The month-long competition, called ReNew Our Schools, empowers students to save energy in their schools and homes while earning great awards. It is a program of the nonprofit Center for ReSource Conservation, based in Boulder. ReNew Our Schools teaches students to identify how much energy they consume and challenges them to find creative ways to conserve. Working with mentors, the program also empowers students to teach others in the community what they learn.

“This is a generation of kids growing up surrounded by electronics. It was impressive to watch these Thompson students become aware of all the energy they use, take on the responsibility to conserve, and achieve amazing results,” said ReNew Our Schools Program Manager Kathy Croasdale. “Thompson schools really took this challenge seriously. They achieved some of the highest energy savings we’ve ever seen.”

In the competition, schools focused on saving energy by changing energy behaviors and infrastructure: turning off lights, delamping over-lit rooms, unplugging devices, or putting computers in sleep mode. Not only did students conserve in school, they brought their lessons home with them to find ways to conserve in their own houses.

The winning elementary schools were Laurene Edmondson ($15,000) Lincoln Elementary ($10,000), and B.F. Kitchen ($5,000). This money is to be used to make energy efficiency changes to their buildings. The winning middle school, Walt Clark Middle School, won a $20,000 solar array. The schools in the competition achieved some incredible results: 3 schools reduced their in school energy use by over 18% and 2 other reduced energy use by 10%. “If the schools continue these savings, they could save the district thousands of dollars over the school year,” said Croasdale.

The funds for administering this competition were generously donated by two foundations: All Points North Foundation, a Boston-based, private foundation, and Innovo Foundation, a private family foundation based in Boulder.

“The program comprehensiveness, level of student engagement and community involvement in each competition is impressive,” said Laura Staich, executive director of All Points North Foundation. “It demonstrates the power of this unique education platform to affect youth behavior, create long lasting energy awareness and offset measurable energy costs in participating schools.”

During competition, each competing school is equipped with an eGauge energy monitor donated by 2 Colorado companies- eGauge and Magnelab- that provides the students and staff with real-time measurements of their energy use.

Each school is also assigned Mentor-volunteers from organizations such as Platte River Power Authority, Hord Coplan Macht, Iconergy, City of Loveland, RB+B Architects, McKinstry, and Group 14 Engineering, who help student groups understand these tools, conduct energy audits, and reduce their energy use.

“This program is a great way for kids to learn about energy use in their buildings so they can develop a better understanding of how they operate.” said Thompson School District Energy Manager Brett Dowgin. “The knowledge they gained from this competition will help them be more conscious of how they use energy and allow them to think critically about ways in which we can improve the district as a whole.”

About the Center for Resource Conservation:
Founded in 1976, the Center for ReSource Conservation (CRC) is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to putting conservation into action. Its programs serve more than 50,000 community members each year and make it easy to conserve water, energy, and materials. Learn more at conservationcenter.org or conservationcenter.org/renew-our-schools.