|How Staff and Students Can Help Conserve Energy and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Keeping the natural environment healthy for future generations depends on everyone’s participation. Schools have a vital role to play in achieving this goal. Energy conservation is one of the most visible and do-able kinds of environmental actions that students and staff can readily participate in at school.
Schools by their very nature are high energy consumers; large rooms, high ceilings and sheer size mean huge power consumption and bills. Cutting energy consumption just 10 percent can save thousands of dollars a year and results in significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Being aware of usage is a great start but with a few changes, a school can do its part to conserve.
Minimize Heat and Cooling Loss
Heat loss through open windows and doors adds to heating bills, and can make it hard to deliver consistently comfortable temperature levels. Similarly, sun spilling through windows during the summer increases cooling costs and can create inconsistent temperatures from one work station to the next.
- Try not to open windows or prop open exterior doors if not necesssary. Letting cool air out in warmer months or warm air out during cooler months, wastes energy. If your workplace is too hot or too cold, let your school administration know.
- During heating season, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gain during the day. Let the light in.
- Make sure that you keep all heating and air vents clear of obstructions like boxes and books.
- Windows and curtains are to be closed at the end of the school day.
Turn Lights Off When Not in Use
Turning off lights in unoccupied class rooms is a simple and effective energy saving strategy and does not require any investment or equipment. The savings could be significant and you can engage all staff in the efficiency process.
- Develop a school policy to turn off lights whenever an area is unoccupied, including areas classrooms, copy rooms and conference rooms
- Post reminders next to light switches to increase compliance.
- Label electrical switches and panels to identify switches that need to be left on at all times, or during school hours only.
- To get staff to adopt this habit sooner, offer incentives for turning off unnecessary lights.
Turn Off and Unplug
Turn off printers and other office machines when they’re not in use. They can idle as much as 90% of the workday and are often left running at night and on weekends. In many businesses, this simple change can achieve big savings.
- Unplug chargers for laptops and cell phones, when they are not charging.
Use Daylight Where Possible
Daylight is by far the best light source. It’s free, sustainable, and increases wellbeing and productivity. Some buildings are not well designed to catch sunlight, but by making the most of the light that is available, you are likely to achieve some energy savings and create a more comfortable and healthy work environment.
- If your lights can be controlled separately, turn them off whenever there is enough natural light available.
- Adjust your blinds to deflect heat in the summer, and keep heat in during the winter.
- Full lighting may not be necessary when performing several tasks, such as presentations, cleaning or stocking. Use
- dimmers and controls (if available) to turn down lighting, or use the lights required for the task.
Put Computers to Sleep
When you are not using your computer, you should log off for security reasons and then put your Mac to sleep or put your PC on standby. This can save a significant amount of energy in your schools. Computer peripherals such as printers, scanners and other electronic equipment should be turned off when not in use.
How Staff and Students Can Help Conserve Water
- Ensure that all taps and toilets are in good working order. Let your school administration know if they are not.
- Learn about the importance of water conservation and how you can save and protect water. Check out Environment Canada’s publication Explore Water With Holly Heron.
- Do not let any tap run unnecessarily. Don’t flush the toilet unnecessarily.
- When waiting for hot water to come through the pipes save the cooler water in a container and use it to water plants.