Charlottesville schools enlist students, teachers in fight for energy efficiency

Charlottesville schools enlist students, teachers in fight for energy efficiency
Burnley-Moran Elementary School is just one Charlottesville City School being update to meet new energy standards. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Schools are working to reduce its energy footprint. Getting it done is a joint effort, and so city departments and teachers are working on it together.

The existing partnership between Charlottesville City Schools and the city’s public works department took on new life last year as the school board adopted a resolution setting aggressive new goals to lower its energy footprint. To meet those goals, the district knows it has to get students involved.

“It’s really it’s the little things that add up," said Kim Powell, the assistant superintendent for finance and operations. "It’s making sure that you don’t leave things plugged in. Chargers, that’s a big culprit, you know, making people aware that leaving things like that plugged in, it’s drawing energy.”

According to data released by the city of Charlottesville in 2019, the school system used the most energy of any city entity. City schools are now committed to updating existing buildings with more efficient technology.

“It was our trying to improve our existing building performance,” Kirk Vizzier, Charlottesville’s energy management coordinator, said. “So, trying to install better equipment over time more efficiencies, improve operations.”

The improvements to increasing building efficiency includes new LED lights, more advanced HVAC units, and more efficient automation systems. They also plan to have newly constructed buildings reach Leadership and Energy Environmental Design, or LEED quality.

To get students involved, the school district is using a variety of methods. They’re running quarterly campaigns with posters and on social media, and even encouraging schools to discuss energy use efforts in open forums - including school announcements.

“Those are the little things that when you communicate that early and often with kids, it can make a big difference as they, you know, as they go through their life,” Powell said.

The resolution was adopted in April 2019. As of now, it does not have a timetable for meeting energy goals.

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