Kids spend about a third of their day at school, and use a lot of energy while they are there! People tend to not notice the small ways energy is wasted in classrooms, such as forgetting to turn the lights off, leaving windows open when the air conditioning is on, or blocking the air vents. An energy-efficient classroom is more comfortable for people, and it uses less oil, natural gas, coal, or electricity for heating or cooling. This activity will allow you to explore how your classroom uses energy. At the end of this activity, you will have discovered simple ways to save energy in your classroom, which means saving money and helping the environment! This activity also offers the opportunity for students to explore how energy can be saved at home.
ESTABLISH YOUR SCHOOL’S GRADES OF GREEN TEAM. Ensure your school has established a Grades of Green Team to help implement this Grades of Green’s Activity and any other Grades of Green Activities your school takes on in the future.
SHARE WITH YOUR SCHOOL! Make sure your school community knows your school is implementing Grades of Green’s Research and Advocacy Activity, as well as the positive impact that this Activity will have on your school. Share facts over the morning announcements about the importance of taking on this Activity, and add them to bulletin boards around campus, to your school’s newspaper or to take-home packets to inspire parents, students, and teachers at your school to get involved!
INFORM THE TEACHERS Once you decide which classroom(s) you’d like to audit, work with the teacher from the classroom(s) to schedule a date and time to conduct the Energy Audit. The audit takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and it can be done before school, during lunch, or after school. If you are a fourth grader or younger, we suggest having an upper grade student or adult help you in conducting the audit. Invite the classroom teacher to join the audit team too!
PREPARE FOR THE ENERGY AUDIT Download Grades of Green’s Energy Audit Form and review the document before conducting the audit. Your goal is to get really comfortable with the audit form so you know exactly what to look for once you are in the classroom.
GET INVESTIGATING CONDUCT THE CLASSROOM ENERGY AUDIT. Use the Energy Audit Form to conduct an energy audit in your classroom(s) and discover all the ways your classroom uses energy. You will need to look high and low to find all the electrical outlets, air conditioning vents, and more, so get ready for an up-close and personal look at your classroom!
DEVELOP YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS Once you complete the energy audit, you will have the opportunity to develop recommended energy-saving activities on the energy audit form. Consider where energy was wasted in the classroom, and what simple actions students or teachers in the room can take to save energy moving forward.
SHARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS Take your recommendations and audit results and share this information with the teacher in the classroom you audited, or better yet, ask the teacher if you can share the results with the students too! Begin by explaining why saving energy is important, how energy is used in the classroom, and conclude with your recommendations you crafted on how energy can be conserved in the future.
CREATE A CLASSROOM ENERGY MONITOR POSITION Introduce an Energy Monitor program in the classroom(s) that participated in the Energy Audit Activity. The Energy Monitor would oversee the classroom’s energy use to make sure energy is not wasted by using the Classroom Energy Monitor Checklist. Students can take turns each day, week or month being the Classroom Energy Monitor.
MAKE ENERGY SMART CHANGES WITH NEW HARDWARE (BONUS!) After conducting the audit, if you see that your classroom or school could save energy by changing out the light bulbs for eco-friendly ones, fixing any air vents, or introducing power strips in classrooms, meet with your Principal to discuss implementing these ideas. Also check out Alliance for Clean Energy's Green Schools Program for additional resources to reduce energy use in school.
MEASURE THE RESULTS Remember that goal you set earlier? How’d it go? How many students did you reach or how much energy did you conserve? Measure the results of taking on Grades of Green’s Energy Audit Activity.
CELEBRATE AND SHARE THE RESULTS! Congratulations! You completed Grades of Green’s Research and Advocacy Activity for your school and we couldn’t be prouder. You helped inspire and empower students to care for the environment, and the earth is just that much better off as a result! Email us the results you achieved, as well as any photos or videos of your completed Grades of Green Activity. Tag @gradesofgreen on social media so we can help share your story! Whether it’s “before/after” photos or videos showing how you took on the Activity or a shot of your Grades of Green Team in action, email your Advisor and tag us on social media so we can help shout it from the mountains on our website, e-newsletter, and social media. And don’t forget to also let your school community and city government know about your great and green accomplishments.
MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE. What can you do to make it this Activity sustainable at your school for years to come? Brainstorm with your Grades of Green Team ways to make the Activity sustainable and part of your school’s everyday culture. We suggest making Grades of Green positions permanent, as well as adding tips and suggestions to your PTA or volunteer handbook, and adding a date to the calendar now to re-educate students next year as well!
Benefit to Students
1. Teaches students how energy is used in their classroom 2. Empowers students to make changes to save energy 3. Can save the school money by reducing the monthly electricity bill
Benefits to the Environment
Saving energy reduces our dependence of fossil fuels.
Saving energy in classrooms could result in a decreased utility bill, which can save the school or district money.