Schools Energy Programme to be piloted in Christchurch

Media release from Christchurch Agency for Energy (CAFE)

Four Christchurch schools will be chosen to pilot a programme to reduce power use and develop energy efficient practices that will help them save on their monthly bills, while educating students.

The year-long pilot will help schools understand how they use energy and where they can make changes to both equipment and behaviours. It will be supported by an educational campaign that encourages maximum student participation.

Christchurch Agency for Energy, along with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the Ministry of Education, is funding the pilot programme which is being developed using the successful nationwide Enviroschools Programme, delivered in Christchurch by Environment Canterbury.

The pilot is estimated to cost $90,000 and will test the effectiveness of a range of energy efficiency measures and will be evaluated before a decision is made on offering the programme to schools nationwide.

"We're pretty excited about this opportunity for Christchurch schools and their communities. We're expecting that the longer term benefits will include life time changes in attitude as well as short and medium term financial savings. Christchurch has a number of reasons to want to pilot this programme including interest and commitment to energy issues as well as many local schools adjusting to lower rolls and the need to make every dollar count," said CEO Merv Altments.

The pilot project is one of a number of initiatives EECA is involved in to improve energy efficiency in the public sector. "In these tough economic times saving energy through efficiency will free up much needed cash for schools. I believe that the lessons that pupils will learn from this programme will encourage energy efficient behaviours at home and throughout their lives,' said EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill.

Ministry of Education spokesperson, Jerome Sheppard said that with focus from students, teachers and school management, low cost savings in the vicinity of 10 to 20% of current energy use could be achieved.

"The purpose of Enviroschools is empowering young people to make change. We see significant potential in this pilot for students to make decisions in areas that have traditionally been left to adult experts," said Heidi Mardon, National Director of The Enviroschools Foundation.

Participating schools may also be able to qualify through EECA for Government funding to help implement energy saving technologies identified through the programme. The four schools out of the 170 in Christchurch will be chosen in the coming weeks.