Electric Education 

Students help local schools cut energy costs.

Leaving the lights on can be costly ... especially for teachers at Douglass High School.

As part of the Green Schools pilot program, a national program designed to educate students on energy efficiency and lower school energy bills, students at Douglass fine teachers $1 if they leave the lights on.

After personnel, energy is the costliest part of running a school. But with the Green Schools program, eight area schools have saved more than $3,000 in energy costs over the last few months.

"The program is very behavior driven," says Jolyn Newton, program manager for TVA Energy Efficiency Education, "but it also integrates math and science curriculum into hands-on learning."

Green Schools, part of the Alliance to Save Energy, includes more than 200 schools nationwide, many of which have seen energy bills reduced between 5 and 15 percent.

The program began locally last August. Currently, four Memphis City Schools are participating: Alcy, Brewster, and Carnes elementaries and Douglass High School. There are also four Shelby County Schools participating: Bon Lin and Riverdale elementaries and Collierville and Millington high schools.

Melani Meacham serves as a liaison to each of the schools, reporting their progress and monthly energy usage.

"The kids are so excited," she says. "The high school kids have brilliant ideas. Some have even shown interest in environmental careers after being involved in this program."

As part of Green Schools, students survey energy use, research cost-saving ideas such as weather stripping, and conduct experiments wih temperature or light bulbs. Students have also offered suggestions for energy savings at their schools.

"We're trying to show how small changes have a tremendous impact," says Anthony Wright, the project facilitator for the Memphis City Schools. "When these ideas are generated by students, they are better received."

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