April 19, 2019

A More Green Oakwood School

This spring, Oakwood participated in Renew Our Schools, a youth engagement program and competition in which schools use real-time energy data to evaluate and reduce their energy consumption.

In this competition, the more energy you save, the more points you earn, and students earned points based on two key components:

  1. Measured savings, determined through eGauge energy monitors, brought about by behavioral changes such as turning off lights, setting computers to power save mode and removing unnecessary appliances.
  2. School energy actions that entailed projects that include audits of energy use, a student-created video that demonstrates your school’s efforts and actions, the creation of energy conservation lesson plans, creative campaigns, etc.
Making seed bombs during ECO Fest as part of the energy challenge

Throughout the program, which lasted approximately 6 weeks, students at both the Elementary and Secondary campuses took this challenge seriously, winning accolades from the program directors, who offered inspiring feedback to Oakwood along the way:

  • “These goals are incredible!  I am very impressed with what your students want to accomplish! I am really impressed with how your school has tackled this whole thing. “
  • “This is awesome! Everyone worked together so much in your school—and that is why you were successful!”
  • “I LOVE that you discovered that students do better under natural light.”
  • “You guys are killing it!”

We are thrilled to announce that the students’ tremendous efforts paid off, with both the elementary campus and the secondary campus placing high in their respective national divisions: Oakwood Elementary ended the competition in third place, and Oakwood Secondary topped the list of energy savers with a first-place spot.

Students reacting to the energy drop demonstration, shutting down the lights in the Math-Science building and seeing the corresponding drop in energy usage

According to Director of Experiential Learning Phu Tranchi, who—along with the support of the business and facilities departments—helped to bring the program to our school, the eGauge monitors will now stay on campus so that students can continue environmentally conscious efforts to reduce our resource usage and make recommendations to the school for the future. Other potential plans also include the incorporation of sustainability workshops into our Community Youth Partnership program.

Congratulations to all of the students, faculty, and administrators who participated in this project and special recognition to the leaders of the ECO club who led this charge: 9th graders Sascha and Naomi, and 10th grader Cate. Click play on the video below to watch them present their secondary campus work:

In related news, Sascha and Naomi should also be commended for receiving a 2019 Teen Innovation Grant awarded by the Jewish Federation for their ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. They submitted a proposal to establish a “High School Sustainability Guide” that pulls together methods for assessing a building’s emissions and points out where there are big opportunities for significant reductions. Their proposal also includes simple ways to calculate carbon emissions produced from food, electricity, and natural gas with the goal of allowing students to analyze Oakwood’s environmental impact and make positive change. Next, they will work with mentors and prepare to attend the Teen Innovation Grant Showcase in June where they will have the opportunity to present their project—Congratulations!