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Students set to save during Surrey's Conservation Cup

Surrey District Supt. Mike McKay carpools with Sullivan Heights teacher Sarah Garr in her Smart car during the Conservation Cup. - Contributed photo
Surrey District Supt. Mike McKay carpools with Sullivan Heights teacher Sarah Garr in her Smart car during the Conservation Cup.
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Kristine Salzmann

Surrey’s secondary schools and the district education centre are vying for bragging rights, but not for who is the brightest.

In fact, some schools may get a bit dimmer. From Feb. 18 to March 1, the 19 high schools and DEC will see who can save the most energy in the district’s second annual Energy Conservation Cup.

Each school has committed to reducing their use of electricity and natural gas by a certain percentage over two weeks, to be calculated by energy intelligence provider Pulse Energy, district communications specialist Corry Anderson-Fennell said in a media release. The top two winners will move on to the energy competition finals April 15 to 19.

At Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale, Physics teacher Susan Hunter-Jivung said students are creating Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and educational videos to spread awareness to their peers on how to conserve energy.

And while the competitive aspect can be fun, Hunter-Jivung said the real success comes from empowering the students.

Yes, they turn off some lights, unplug a few things and close some windows – but some students are also researching long-term solutions, such as how to efficiently light a room.

“It’s opening them up to the idea that kids can come up with a solution,” she said, adding she would like to see initiatives like this happen more than once a year.

Hunter-Jivung said the competition also helps make Physics real for her students. They can look at why one light bulb is more efficient than another, and become familiar with the measurement of energy consumption in kilowatt hours.

During last year’s Cup, Surrey schools had their cafeterias serve cold lunches, held “Ugly Sweater Days” while turning down thermostats, put on acoustic concerts, and turned off as many lights as possible (without jeopardizing student safety, Anderson-Fennell assured).

“The idea is to be creative,” Alasdair MacKinnon, the district’s director of energy management and sustainability, said in the media release. “It’s one thing to change hardware and upgrade to energy efficient systems, but changing human behaviour is the greater challenge and it’s activities like these that will do it.”

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