Green energy challenge encourages students to learn, and learn from, conservation habits

Green School Alliance encourage students to bring green thinking and green behavior out of the classroom and into their homes.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Question: How much does the next generation of leaders and consumers and employees and marketers, i.e, the children attending U.S. schools, care about green energy habits? Answer: Enough for them to have helped their administrators save up to 18 percent last year as part of a "green energy" challenge.

Now, the Green Schools Alliance is getting ready to help support the 4th annual Green Cup Challenge, which is basically an interschool contest to see which student body can help reduce their school's energy consumption and carbon emissions the most over a given timeframe. The next Challenge runs from Jan. 25, 2010, to Feb. 22, 2010, in most locations although in the New York Public Schools it runs slightly earlier.

Actually, that's who alerted me to this contest: parents and administrators for Public School 166 (aka the Richard Rodgers Schools of the Arts and Technology), which hopes to cut its energy usage by 10 percent. (It current energy bills can run as high as $26,000 per month.) There is an assembly today (Wednesday, Jan. 13) to kick off the challenge period. Each classroom has two student captains to help remind others about switching off the power, computers and anything else with a plug when they're not in use. The school also believes the initiative will play a role in its science and math curriculum -- students will be asking to take meter readings and run calculations that help them understand the impact of the challenge on climate change.

Says parent Emily Fano, who is co-chair for the PS166 Green Committee, in a press release issued by the school:

"Ultimately, we can't keep consuming energy without thinking about it anymore; it's not only causing global warming, it's unnecessarily wasteful and costs money. Through the Green Cup Challenge, our kids will learn new conservation habits that they can take home; they will watch the numbers on the building's meters go down and know that they helped to achieve that; and they will come to understand that together, kids in schools can really make a positive difference for the planet."

The Green Schools Alliance was started with the notion of encouraging every student, and every parent of every student, to understand that every single person can impact climate change. There are currently 1,951 member schools and membership is free, based on the schools commitment to certain energy reduction philosophies. Several of the schools who have made commitments above and beyond this (because they have won past Green Cup Challenges or are investing in renewable energy) are featured on this page.

Remember how much the habits you learned in elementary school affected your later behavior? Now, consider whether or not it's a good idea to encourage your local public school system to get involved with something like Green Schools Alliance. Helping the next generation think green first, and not just as an afterthought, will go a long way toward shaping a smarter planet.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards