School Energy Audits To Be Conducted By Kids

If you’ve got kids, don’t be surprised if you’re soon peppered with questions about high-efficiency light bulbs, programmable thermostats and the energy-use rating of that old freezer in the basement.

That’s because the Green Education Foundation (GEF) is embarking on a new program in which nearly 300,000 students from schools around the country will “audit their classrooms, schools and homes to find energy leaks and correct them in an effort to reduce utility costs and help the environment.”

Green Energy Challenge 2011

image via NASA

National Grid, the Northeast-based power company, is sponsoring  “Green Energy Challenge 2011,” which kicked off this month and runs until Earth Day, April 22. With the program, GEF said it is providing audit checklists and energy experiments for all grade levels, K-12, and offering an online curriculum library with lessons, activities and projects that can be woven into the full range of school subjects – science, math, language arts, social studies and creative arts.

At school, participants are asked to research past energy bills and make changes that will trim energy use and costs during the school year. Results will be posted on GEF’s website on Earth Day (April 22), 2011, the nonprofit organization said.

While the Green Energy Challenge is just taking off, GEF is still inviting schools to participate in National Green Week, which broadens the focus from energy to include the full range of environmental issues associated with how we live on the planet. Schools have the flexibility to choose any week leading up to Earth Day to participate. Last year, GEF said, more than 2 million students took part in the program and among other accomplishments, reduced their trash by more than 100,000 lbs.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.