Our 8th grade students have really been impressive in their effort to help the school district save money along with seeking out ways for the school to use more sustainable energy. Last year’s students were originally presented with a problem to look for ways to reduce energy use and cost in our school. One of their solutions was to use energy-saving lights. Thanks to an administration that listens to students and the generous support of the Lutron lighting company, our classroom is now fitted with a balance LC system that measures the sunlight coming in the room to determine the amount of electric light needed. That system has resulted in a 50% savings in energy use and is part of a new Lutron program involving schools nationwide called Greenovation. (For more information about Greenovation you can visit www.lutron.com/greenovation).
The students were also interested in capturing solar energy. We had Mr. Jay Bingaman from Thomas school visit to explain how their solar array worked and the process he went through to get funding from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. The ambitious group of students followed up by writing a grant for South. Again with the support of administration we were able to receive the grant and enjoy our new array. This year’s students have been inspired to follow in the path of the previous class. They are currently working on an application for the Ecozone Contest for $100,000.
CBS News Chicago did a report on our entry process. (To see a copy of the CBS piece go to
Since both our panel and lighting system will be connected to a web site, we can monitor both energy use and production. Our students will be monitoring each sustainable effort to make appropriate decisions in regards to changes we will make in the future. We will also be planning our Solar Celebration for April 9.
Our students are having a tremendous impact in reducing our school’s carbon footprint as they show leadership and creativity in their efforts.