Powerful Savings as Schools take up Energy Challenge

Posted 10/12/2014 00:00:00

More than 100 Eco-Schools from across Northern Ireland switched on to SSE Airtricity’s ‘Power Down Day’ for the third year in a row, as part of the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, World Days of Action initiative.

Earlier this month, energy eco-warriors in schools all over the country, monitored their electricity usage for a week, patrolling classrooms and corridors, to make sure teachers and pupils were turning off lights, equipment wasn’t being left on stand-by and doors and windows were shut to save heating.

Eco-Schools who took part, saved an impressive 20% average energy usage on the day, despite the weather being wet and windy. SSE Airtricity and Eco-Schools estimate that if all 1178 schools in Northern Ireland participated, there is a potential combined saving of around 40,000 KWH of energy, or around £6,000 in energy costs, in just one day through a few simple energy saving actions.

Following the launch of Power Down Day in 2012, more than 20% of schools from across Northern Ireland have participated in the annual energy saving day, which has seen more than 5300 KWH of electricity saved.

One school who did particularly well in this year’s challenge was St Bride’s Primary School in Belfast. With the school split across two locations the challenge was to coordinate and communicate throughout the whole school. The pupils did a brilliant job and decided to run the ‘Power Down Day’ for two weeks to compare the difference. Amazingly they saved 54% of their energy in week 1 and 56% in week 2.

Nóilín White, Eco-Coordinator at St Bride’s Primary School said: “The pupils really enjoyed the challenge and the school really got into the spirit of it. It just shows how worthwhile it is, what a difference some small changes can make and it certainly highlights just how much energy could be saved. Turning the lights off for a short time during ‘quiet time’ affected the children’s mood too. They were calm and relaxed and enjoyed the time listening to music & stories. We may have to do this once a week from now on!”

Josh Bradley at SSE Airtricity said: “The reaction from schools towards Power Down Day over the last three years has been fantastic. Eco-Schools all over the country have embraced energy saving and started to make real changes around how they monitor and control energy usage, and this highlighted by the attitude of the pupils at St Bride’s, who are a positive example to other Eco-Schools across Northern Ireland.

Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “It is great to see so many schools interested in energy saving and SSE Airtricity’s Eco-Schools ‘Power Down Day’ is a great way to remind us all of the importance of energy efficiency.  It is great to see just how much energy schools saved as a result of simple behavioural changes.”

Northern Ireland pupils are joining their efforts on sustainable action with thousands of other Eco-Schools around the world to raise awareness environmental good practice. Millions of pupils globally will register their results and ideas though the International Eco-Schools World Days of Action website www.eco-schools.org/wda . World Days of Action is an initiative of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) Eco-Schools programme and designed to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-oriented learning.