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Belmont Elementary Schools the Green Cup Challenge UPDATE

The results are in for the nationwide Green Cup Energy Challenge held January 14 through February 11, sponsored by Green Schools Alliance and the PTO/PTA Green Alliance Teams at the elementary schools.  The Wellington Elementary School placed ninth out of 63 participating schools in the Northeast Region for Day Schools, and placed third in the Northeast Day category followed by a fourth place for Winn Brook Elementary School.  All the Belmont Public Elementary schools reduced their electricity use with Wellington seeing  an 18 percent reduction; Winn Brook a ten percent reduction; and Burbank and Butler Schools a nearly two percent reduction.

Belmont schools had some closures during the four-week challenge due to snow days, and experienced some cold and dark days where heat and lights were going strong, but even with factors perhaps not scientifically ideal, all the elementary schools can congratulate themselves in achieving a reduction in energy use.  

By Krys Murphy

Butler meter read with teacher Brian Bisceglia Kane and studentsGoing green is as simple as flicking a switch.  This small action, such as turning off a light when not in use, can reap big benefits in conserving electricity, and the PTO/PTA run Green Alliance teams aim to prove it while participating in the Green Cup Energy Challenge, a world-wide competition inviting K-12 schools Green Teams to measure and reduce energy use.

The goal of the month-long challenge, organized by the non-profit global organization Green Schools Alliance, is to reduce energy usage in school buildings by five percent beginning January 14 through February 11.  Students, faculty and staff in the elementary schools will make an effort to conserve energy by checking to see if lights are turned off, computers are powered down, and electronics are unplugged at the end of the day or when not in use.  To help in this task, Belmont Light, the town-run organization that delivers electricity to the community of Belmont, loaned each elementary school a hand-held meter that shows, once a device is plugged into the meter, how many kilowatts a device is drawing.

Each week electric meters at the schools will be read and the information sent to the Challenge coordinators at the Green Schools Alliance organization.  Last year the Wellington School was the one Belmont public school entered in the challenge, and the school came in second place in the region by achieving a near 14 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to the same period the previous year.  The Green Schools Alliance organization says by achieving that reduction Wellington conserved 13,280 kilowatt-hours of electricity, reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 14, 717 pounds, and saved $1,894 on its energy bill.

Wellington Meter Read 4th graders and Principal Amy SpangleThis year all the Belmont public elementary schools are participating and the PTO/PTA group hopes to include the middle and high schools in next year’s challenge.  “If we can lower the energy use in the buildings by five percent, and get people used to unplugging lights and change behaviors, we may be able to sustain energy savings the rest of the school year,” says Amanda Mujica, Chair of the PTA/PTO Green Alliance, sponsors and organizers for the schools.  “The meter readings are tangible results for the students to see, and we hope they take the energy reduction education they are learning about back into their own homes.”

The town of Belmont was recently designated a green community by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  To qualify, Belmont needed to meet several criteria; one of them is to commit to reducing energy by 20 percent within the next five years.  The town received a $151,850 state grant to help meet that goal and to increase energy-reducing methods.  “Schools are a large part of the town’s municipal buildings, and this competition goes toward achieving the goals set by the designation,” says town of Belmont Recycling Coordinator Mary Beth Calnan.  “This recognition means the town can apply for more grants only available to those municipalities that are designated a green community.”  Calnan says Belmont families can try the simple reduction measures the schools are using at home and read the electric meter once a week to see how they are doing.

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