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Halfmoon Bay Elementary saves energy

Halfmoon Bay Elementary saves energy

Halfmoon Bay Elementary teacher Kassandra Stinchcombe was grinning as classes ended in June.  Summer vacation is here, but better yet her Grade 5/6 class won this year’s “Energy Cup” – dropping school energy use by over nine per cent in one week in April through behaviour changes. “Students better understand climate change impacts and ways they can make positive impacts,” said Stinchcombe. “From basic science, they now also experienced local solutions to climate change happening here on the Coast.”  

The Energy Matters program provides Grade 4 to 10 teachers with curriculum linked lesson resources focussed on the science and solutions of energy use. And the Energy Cup is a school- to-school competition that encourages students to find opportunities to save energy at school and at home.  The heat is turned down a couple of degrees for one week in April and all classes help save energy in every way.  

Teacher Kassandra Stinchcombe, at centre holding the certificate, is surrounded by her Grade 5/6 students who won this year’s “Energy Cup” by reducing energy use at Halfmoon Bay Elementary. They are trying hard to look thoughtful, having been instructed to pose as if they are considering their next energy-saving tactic. Photo submitted

This year, rather than use the money saved to provide personal prizes to the winning students, SD46 is purchasing a carbon offset (for $1,000) somewhere else in the world. “Apart from the recognition of winning, Halfmoon Bay Elementary students are excited to have their school’s name attached to a carbon offset purchased to offset 30 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions”, Stinchcombe said.

Said Rob Collison, manager of facilities and transportation for SD46: “Of course, schools require energy for heating and cooling rooms; heating water and for lights and appliances, but we also need to refresh how we use our buildings – turning off lights yes, and closing doors after recess are two ways. But there’s lots more schools can do.  Davis Bay students this year explored the cause of energy spikes via the schools’ BC Hydro accounts.  Sometimes its little things that make a difference like leaving projectors on when not needed and empty fridges plugged”. 

It was four years ago, that Collison had the brainchild to initiate the Energy Matters program which hosts the Energy Cup.  

Collison works hard to find energy solutions daily.  “With better windows, better insulation and more efficient air-handling and heating systems, and better light controls we save energy,” he said.  “To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have to electrify more schools – i.e. replace natural gas heating with electricity.  That drives cost up because gas is cheaper, but using electricity saves tonnes of emissions.  So, we installed solar in multiple schools with available grants, to help further offset the high cost of electricity and reduce our emissions.  Davis Bay Elementary now saves 50 per cent on electricity use even in November and March compared to before. The three winter months we rely on the grid – the other seven months we put more back into the grid than we use.  Langdale Elementary is now a top energy performer after adding solar, new windows and HVAC upgrades.

“In the past decade SD46 buildings have gone from 1,000 tonnes of CO2e to 580 tonnes per year,” said Collison.  “Our costs in that time dropped 20 per cent ($100,000 annually) and we dropped energy usage by a third.”

Submitted by SD46

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