Redesigning lighting systems and installing power management software on school computers are among some of the energy conservation projects that helped the Vancouver School Board to be recognized as one of BC Hydro's Top 10 Power Smart customers this year.
The school district earned Power Smart credits over the past two years through initiating energy conservation projects and other activities including training events and a student-led Climate Change Summit. The district ranked 8 out of all BC Hydro customers and has earned more Power Smart credits than any other school district.
"We are proud to be recognized for our energy conservation efforts and to be leading the way amongst school districts in the Province in this area" said VSB's Manager of Facilities for Climate Action, Kirthi Roberts. "The Vancouver School Board is integrating energy, carbon reduction and sustainability initiatives through our operations and management and student engagement activities."
One of the leading projects for the district was the installation of power management software on 10,000 school computers so the computers power down when not in use. Now students and teachers have extra help in turning off computers which can easily be left on in busy libraries, labs and classrooms.
"VSB Information Technology (IT) Department was instrumental in installing this system district-wide," said Roberts.
The power management software will save 1.5 Gigawatt-hours of electricity this year, equivalent to five per cent of the district's total energy bill.
Lighting systems in the district have also been analyzed and recent retrofits in three schools will reduce electricity consumption by over 750,000 KWh this year. Much of the energy savings can be attributed to the installation of energy-efficient T-8 fluorescent tubes which give better quality light and significant energy savings.
"The Electrical division within the Maintainence & Construction Department need to be recognized for their efforts with these electrical upgrades," said Roberts.
In addition, some classrooms have been redesigned to include multiple light switches so students and teachers can control the amount of light needed in the classroom. Daylight sensors have been installed in some areas so lights turn off when it is bright enough outside. Control systems in other areas include occupancy sensors that turn lights off when there is no movement in a room.
"We'll continue to upgrade lighting systems on an ongoing basis to improve lighting efficiency and do so while improving the quality of lighting in Vancouver schools," said Roberts.
But not all the initiatives involve changes to facilities. Vancouver secondary school students are leading the way by working with BC Hydro to encourage energy conservation and sustainability in their schools through the BC Hydro 'Energy Ambassadors' Program.
The VSB is also one of five school districts selected in the province for BC Hydro's Workplace Conservation Awareness Pilot Program. The program, which will involve three secondary and their 16"�elementary feeder schools will be part of this pilot program beginning in Fall 2010. Roberts is working with the district's Sustainability Co-ordinator, Kevin Millsip, to implement this behavioural program.
Over a 12-18 month period the entire school community including students, teachers and staff will be encouraged to make behavioral changes toward energy conservation.
The program has four objectives including: having an 'student energy monitor' in each classroom to help change behaviour and encourage energy and resource conservation; requiring that half of the school's staff attend an energy conservation seminar; the development of a school-wide paper conservation plan; and to have suggestion boxes across the schools to allow students and staff to freely contribute ideas on ways the school can reduce and conserve resources and energy.
The district also supported a student led Climate Change Summit that coincided with the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. Students organized this event and invited local experts and conducted workshops to discuss climate change issues and actions to reduce the VSB's carbon footprint. Read more about the summit here.
Check back often to read more about the VSB's energy conservation efforts.
View the Vancouver School Board's Power Smart ads: