East Bay News

Energy students find ways to save school thousands

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Some smart students are brainstorming to help their school save money. They are members of Livermore High School's Green Engineering Academy and were part of a district wide energy audit - tasked with finding ways to cut energy costs.

"It all started when we all got together and started being geeky," said

Six students were part of Livermore High School's Green Engineering Academy. The program is designed to promote engineering through hands-on activity and is only offered to only 60 students a year. The shared interest formed an instant connection.

"We all bonded and we're all brothers and sisters, and we were able to learn together and have fun like making fun of each other while we're at the science fair together," said Livermore student Laila Hassen.

Together they applied their skills to find ways to save their school and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs -- something the class of 1936 never had to worry about.

"It's baby steps that you have to take to lead to a big difference. It's what you have to do. Every light switch counts," said Livermore student Ivan Valdez.

For example, their T-12 lamp is an older system, it's about 1.5 inches in diameter and uses more energy than newer models.

"It's their school, they know it best and they can help us out with specific counts and specific information," said Duane Kubischsta from KW Engineering.

The project was made possible by PG&E's "Innovator Pilots" program, where engineers like Kubischsta are brought on board to do a facility energy audit. In this case, he was teamed with those who know the campus best - the students of Livermore High School's Green Engineering Academy.

"That measure that we identified is about 100,000 KWH of annual savings which is about $14,000 for the school, each year that they would save," said Kubischsta.

The students were able to identify more than 45 quad lamps, multiple thermostats and old computers that were outdated and simply sucking up too much energy to be cost effective in today's classroom. A simple upgrade was an opportunity for real savings -- a move the district business officer, looking to make every penny count, can appreciate.

"That saved us like $70,000 for a small investment. We do have to pay money to save money, but the return on investment is very short," said Susan Kinder, the district's business officer.

When they put the green measures in place, Livermore High School could save as much as $34,000 annually. The best part is unless the school is new every school has an opportunity to save as much in energy cost.

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