President’s Environmental Youth Awards 2007 Recipients | Region 10 | US EPA

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President’s Environmental Youth Awards 2007 Recipients

Cool School Campaign

Redmond High School
Redmond, Washington

In response to a question posed by one of their teachers, five energetic students from Redmond High School developed a program that challenges teachers to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated in the classroom through transportation, recycling, electricity, and heating. In its first year, the Cool School Campaign reduced 72 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2); now in its second year, the campaign is expecting an even greater reduction in energy usage.

Region 10

The students began the project by asking each teacher in the school to complete a pre-survey that introduced the "Cool School Campaign" and provided simple tips on how to reduce energy usage. The students asked teachers to sign a pledge to reduce 1,000 pounds of CO2 during the year in their classrooms. (In 2008, the goal will be increased to 2,000 pounds.) Once the teachers signed the pledge, the students provided a poster for the classroom and a ream of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The posters added a competitive spirit to the challenge and helped "pressure" other teachers to sign the pledge. The students educated and encouraged teachers to take simple steps to reduce energy usage. Small changes, like turning the temperature down a few degrees, using only two of the four sets of ceiling lights, car pooling, turning off DVD players at the power strip, and drinking coffee out of reusable mugs, meant a big reduction in the CO2 emissions. In the first year, the teachers' actions saved the school district $7,500.

The Cool School Campaign has generated interest district wide and has produced measurable environmental results. For example, over the past two and a half years, the district has saved $550,000 by recycling more, watering less, reducing waste, and generally using less energy. The Cool School Campaign, which is interactive and involves the entire student population, not just the staff, has been adopted by 17 other schools and in the district administrative offices, and students continue to offer training to support the cause. The success of the students' efforts prompted the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Puget Sound Energy to provide financial assistance to train additional teachers. The students also had a chance to present their results to the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Los Angeles, California.

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