By David Kligman
STOCKTON — High school students were doing the teaching today (Dec. 10) as a group of youngsters provided energy-saving advice for the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
The six students are members of the New Energy Academy at Stockton’s Venture Academy. In 2010, PG&E began the first-of-its-kind academies at five schools throughout its service area — Stockton, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno and Berkeley — to train and immerse high school students in energy and better prepare them for college and for green technology jobs.
This month, each of the academies is performing a day of service by performing an energy audit at a local nonprofit. Stockton’s New Energy Academy chose the Red Cross. The partnership is a natural one since the school regularly hosts the Red Cross to perform CPR training and allows the organization to use its campus to film video clips of volunteer recognition heroes.
Overseeing the audit was Jeannine Huffman, who teaches a course on green energy at the New Energy Academy as part of the San Joaquin County of Education. She said it was the first time the students had performed an energy audit outside of their school. The students all volunteered for the assignment.
‘A career they might pursue’
“We all wonder what do we want to do when we grow up?” Huffman said. “We want them to see that this is a career they might pursue.”
The students performed the energy audit in three areas of the office building—the break room, an office and a room that’s used during disasters.
Gerald Young and Joseph Ramirez untangled cords and crawled under desks to determine what’s plugged in. Yariccin Angel then used the gadget known as a Kill-A-Watt to measure the energy of a printer, computers, a microwave oven, a water cooler and a coffeemaker.
Angel then called out numbers to Sydney Stout, who jotted them on piece of paper attached to a clipboard. Brian Tingle and Levi Duda assessed the lighting.
In part of the building, Duda suggested energy-efficient lighting known as “de-lighting.”
“You basically can use half the lights,” said Duda, a junior who said he’d like to someday attend MIT and work as an engineer. If we were to take out two lights here it would be just as bright. It’s still spread out. You’re just not using as much energy.”
Huffman jumped in: “Levi, you know your stuff.”
Responded Duda, “I’m paying attention.”
Recommendations for energy savings
The students planned to present comprehensive findings to the Red Cross but made some preliminary recommendations. They suggested an Energy Star refrigerator to replace the outdated one in the break room, power strips with timers to reduce phantom energy loads and relying on natural light in the offices.
Liza Cruz, regional manager for the Red Cross, said she was impressed.
“The more money we save on energy will allow us to spend it on other projects,” said Cruz.
Cruz then left the students with a reminder of the Red Cross’ main message and encouraged them to prepare emergency disaster kits at home.
“The one message we want to leave you with is the one we always give at the American Red Cross,” she said. “And that’s to always be prepared. It’s not if it’s going to happen. It’s when it’s going to happen.”
Students at the other New Energy Academy locations also participated in day of service activities:
- At Independent High School in Bakersfield, the students worked with the local Boys & Girls Club on Dec. 5.
- At Foothill High School in Sacramento, the students worked with the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity on Dec. 7.
- Students from Fresno’s Edison High School worked with Habitat for Humanity ReStore facility in Clovis on Dec. 7.
- Students from Berkeley High School are scheduled to work with the local YMCA on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
The day of service follows the month-long Unplugged Competition in which the New Energy Academies competed to reduce its carbon dioxide output by saving energy. PG&E, in the coming weeks, will award a $25,000 grant to the winning school that can be used toward any energy efficiency project the students choose.
Email David Kligman at David.Kligman@pge.com.