I was surprised by the cheers and raised fists at my announcement. Why are students excited about the school being cold on Friday and about being requested to “dress warmly”? That was yesterday.
Today was National “Greenchoice Warm Sweater Day” in the Netherlands. In honor of this day we lowered/turned off the heat in the secondary school. By 7:30 a.m. I had been in each classroom on the 3rd floor and turned all the heaters to “off” or “1” (the lowest possible setting). By 8:00 I could already feel a slight chill in the air. Students came properly prepared with extra clothing layers, sweaters and hoodies and didn’t complain all day. Rather, I heard the phrase, “It’s not bad at all” or “If this is what ‘Going Green’ feels like then bring it on”
Our Going Green Group wants to reduce the carbon footprint of the school by 5% this year. Our first event was the garbage audit (students are still working out a proposal based on those results). Today’s event will enable us to compare the gas usage to that of a day when the heaters were running full blast. We will be able to measure the difference in energy consumed when making a greener choice. Our gas and electricity usage runs through a meter that is interfaced with a computer program. Through this “portal” we can view our gas and electricity usage on monthly, daily, and even hourly basis. I’m quite excited to see the graph from today as it compares to other days (there is a 24 hour lag time).
According to the Greenchoice Warm Sweater Day web site, for every degree the temperature is lowered, energy usage decreases by 7%. It seems like turning down our heaters during cold months will be an obvious way to reduce our carbon footprint, save energy, and lower costs at the school. It is amazing how "easy" it was to endure. Staff and students were happy and content all day. My room was probably the coldest (as it always is) since I'm at the end of a hallway and two of my walls are a row of windows. Thank you icelandic woollen sweater!
Another rather unexpected bonus to our Going Green initiative is the unity and sense of purpose it seems to be creating among students and staff. Go Green!