Saving Energy at St. Michael-Gymnasium

Britta Pielen, Tobias Plötzing, Daniel Schlich

Saving energy is a frequent topic in school lessons and considering the impact of global warming this is a good thing. However, there is a huge discrepancy between the lessons about responsible energy usage and the actual energy usage of most schools. We decided to initiate an energy efficiency project which pays for itself at our school, as many municipalities do not have funds to pay for extensive energy efficiency improvements. We are the energy team of St. Michael-Gymnasium Bad Münstereifel.

Our project is based on three main ideas:

  1. To initiate an energy saving project which pays for itself at our school.
  2. To promote responsible energy usage among students and teachers at school and beyond (think globally - act locally).
  3. Saving energy must be in the interest of those involved, i.e. the cost savings should not simply be kept by the city council, but they should benefit our school.

Most students and teachers were easily convinced by our project idea and the district government Cologne, RWE and GVE promised to help.

We have created awareness regarding energy usage with an ideas competition, noticeboards, many conversations and simply by leading by example. Energy representatives, who are elected by their class, ensure that our energy saving rules are followed and they also keep us informed about energy problems, such as broken thermostats or lights. We have put up room allocation plans in all rooms to give students and teachers the necessary information to decide when it makes sense to switch off the lights and turn down the heating.

We inspected the heating system of our school and conducted measurements with a computer. This led to the discovery of many issues, such as incorrectly set timers (heating on Saturdays when the school is closed), heating pipes without insulation and incorrect temperature reductions during nights, ... . We either resolved the issues ourselves, or we made arrangements to ensure that they will be addressed.

Furthermore, we investigated how the energy usage of different years can be corrected for climate variations to become comparable.

As mentioned above, the cost savings should not simply remain with the city council. Therefore we set up a contract with the city council that specifies that 40% of the cost savings should be invested in energy efficiency improvements, a further 40% should be available to the school for school projects and 20% should go to the city council to make the contract attractive to them.

During the first year we saved 32 000 DM (German marks). We used the 12 800 DM (40%) assigned to school projects to buy color monitors for the computer science lab, an amplifier system for our theatre and we made a small contribution to benches for our school yard.

During the second year we were able to save an even larger amount of 49 000 DM due to the technical energy efficiency improvements.

Daniel Schlich, Britta Pielen, Tobias Plötzing
Daniel Schlich, Britta Pielen, Tobias Plötzing
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