Zerofootprint challenges students to reduce their school’s electricity use

November 14th, 2011 by Cathy Rust Leave a reply »

Zerofootprint Challenge Software: Zerofootprint has developed sophisticated software to help clients figure out where they are starting from (benchmark) and what they need to do to reduce their energy consumption. Take, for example, the Halton Catholic District School Board. This organization consists of 48 schools consuming large amounts of energy and water. Through the software provided by Zerofootprint, anyone can see which schools are the most efficient and which are the least in the areas of electricity, heating, and water. It also provides a way for the schools to compete against each other to see which school can improve its energy efficiency. Ron told me that the schools have enrolled their students into the challenge and one example he gave me was that when students find out that their school’s electricity consumption is nearing its daily consumption target, they will turn off non-essential lights and computers. He said that behaviour is changing as a result: the kids are playing board games at free time instead of hovering around the computer. And, perhaps most importantly, there is a sense of ownership and accomplishment when the students participate in this challenge. They see the results of their efforts and can connect human behaviour directly with electricity consumption.  As Ron pointed out to me, efficiency efforts are as much about redirecting their budget as it is about environmental awareness; the less money schools spend on heating and electricity, the more money they have available to put into educational activities and after school programs.

Zero Footprint’s Carbon Cube

Another teaching tool Zerofootprint has developed is the carbon cube. It is a cube measuring 6″x6″x6″ and represents 10g of CO2. There is a description on the box of what 10g of carbon is the equivalent to:

  • driving a gas guzzler 25 meters
  • making 1 cup of hot tea
  • having the lights on in your classroom for 1 minute
Teachers can demonstrate to their students just how much CO2 is emitted through specific actions as represented by these cubes.
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