Green Schools Program Also Greens Students' Homes

Green Schools Program Also Greens Students' Homes

As part of a program to increase energy-efficiency in schools, almost thirty schools in Southern California are helping students trade conventional lightbulbs for compact fluorescents.

The Alliance to Save Energy has partnered with Southern California Edison to enroll an initial nine elementary and high schools in the Alta Loma, Hesperia, and San Bernardino Unified School Districts in a program to bring home energy-efficient CFLs.

Southern California Edison provided the energy-efficient bulb, and the program is funded by California utility rate payers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

"The bulb exchange is a great way for Southern California Edison to promote how easy it can be to be more energy efficient, and how much not only schools, but also families and the community at large, can benefit from readily-available technologies like CFLs," said Cheryl Wynn, manager for Residential Energy Efficiency Programs at Southern California Edison. "CFLs use only about one-third the energy of incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times as long."

The immediate goal of the exchange program was to substitute some 4,000 CFLs for incandescent bulbs during the 2006-2007 school year. The program's long-range goal was to swap 12,000 bulbs over three years. But the energy- and money-saving idea caught on so well that in just four months -- and with just nine schools initially participating -- schools had to scramble to keep up with the demand for CFLs.

When the dust had settled, more than 8,000 bulbs had been swapped in the fall semester alone. Now, 20 more schools are gearing up for bulb exchanges during the spring semester, with the potential of exchanging several thousand more CFLs and surpassing the 12,000 three-year goal in only one year.

"The CFL exchange has become an energy-efficiency rallying point for students, teachers, and the community at large," said Jo Tiffany, program manager for the Alliance's Green Schools California program. "The CFLs, with their twisty, high-tech design, are the perfect symbol for energy-efficiency technologies and environmental sustainability, and the parents and communities are definitely responding to the student-teacher initiative."

Based on these numbers, students in the nine participating schools have already saved more than $400,000 in overall energy costs for their families and about 3 million kWh over the lifetime of the CFLs. Given the projections for spring, the Green Schools program anticipates that the schools will save more than $700,000 and 5.2 million kWh by the end of the school year in June.

"With each compact fluorescent bulb lasting nine or 10 years, about $50 worth of electricity is saved over the lifetime of each CFL that is used instead of an incandescent bulb," noted Grant Cooke, vice president of Intergy Corporation, which works with the Alliance to administer the program. "In terms of energy use, you can save about 700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) over the life of each energy-efficient bulb."

The Alliance's Green Schools program has been implemented in Southern California Edison's service territory for nearly seven years, starting in 2000. Green Schools' unique approach integrates real-world energy savings in schools with classroom instruction on energy efficiency. As exemplified by the light bulb exchange, the Green Schools program often extends the energy-efficiency lessons to students' homes and to the community at large.

Along with Intergy Corporation, the State Environmental Education Roundtable administers the Green Schools Program in Southern California.

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security.