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Collegiate Academy's Energy Conservation Project Leads to Big Changes

By Amanda Gallant
Gannon University Student Contributor Picture

When environmentally conscious teacher at Northwest Collegiate Academy, Doreen Petri, challenged her science class to find ways to make their school more energy efficient in 2007, the results astounded everyone. The students readily accepted the challenge and proposed suggestions that made a big impact out of many small changes.

They started by reviewing how energy was being used previously at Northwest. This careful review of their practices provided a number of ideas on how to reduce energy consumption and save their school money. The three changes the students proposed were both simple and effective:
  • Replaced current inefficient light bulbs with energy efficient models
  • Recommended opening blinds rather than turning on lights
  • Turned off unused lights and computers at night

With the help of the school's students and faculty to implement these solutions, energy consumption at Northwest Collegiate Acadamy was drastically reduced. According to Doreen Petri, "one year after the energy audit was completed, Collegiate had saved an incredible $1100 and changed their Energy Star Portfolio rating from a mere 23 to 46."

Then the students took this amazing impact one step farther: they decided to continue with the project. In 2008, the students created a " Green Team" to educate elementary and middle school students on the importance of energy audits. As a result, more students were able to use the information they had gained to save energy in their schools and homes.Then the students took this amazing impact one step farther: they decided to continue with the project. In 2008, the students created a "Green Team" to educate elementary and middle school students on the importance of energy audits. As a result, more students were able to use the information they had gained to save energy in their schools and homes.

Northwest Collegiate Academy's Green Team Logo

In recent years, Doreen and the Green Team have been working collaboratively with a number of schools in the Erie community to help them create a more detailed plan to save energy. With the approval of the school board, the project has become district wide. An unbelievable thirteen schools out of twenty-one have decided to participate. With the help of grant funding, participating teachers in Erie were trained in energy conservation to more effectively educate their students about energy usage.

In 2011, a curriculum was written and taught to educate students on the importance of energy audits and conserving energy. This, says Doreen Petri, is her biggest accomplishment to date, because the entire theme of the project has been to educate the students.
The project has helped many schools in the Erie community to better conserve energy. Some schools have implemented red and green tickets to remind and encourage students and staff to follow the energy saving procedures they've put into place. In return for their hard work, the schools were rewarded with a celebration at Collegiate Academy. 450 students from across Erie attended. They were given a tour to see Collegiate's solar panels and wind turbines. Then the percentages of energy savings each school had made since their audit were announced. The schools' audits and new procedures had saved the school board $86,000 in one year just by making a few small changes.

Just imagine if every school, business an d home in the United States participated in conserving energy the way Petri and the students of the Erie community have. What a positive difference it would make to our environment for our future generations. Collegiate Academy's Solar Panels

Photo Courtesy of Doreen Petri. Logos used with Permission.