Developed by the non-profit SEI, California’s Energy Conservation Competition aimed to change behaviors around lighting, plug-loads, and mechanical systems by working with teachers and students in K-12 schools. Working with county offices of education and districts, in conjunction with teachers and schools that SEI had developed relationships with through previous work, schools were registered for the Energy Conservation Competition and immediately began receiving support from a dedicated SEI Energy Advisor. These advisors functioned as experts for the school-wide energy reduction campaigns and provided teachers with resources such as energy conservation guides, shut-down checklists, templates for doorhangers encouraging specific energy-saving behaviors, and light and watt meters, all of which served to reduce barriers around participation in the competition. After completing a light and plug-load audit and participating in project-based energy education lessons, students created their own energy conservation action plans and accompanying campaign materials using SMART goals and community-based social marketing principles. Completed plans were submitted to the Energy Advisor and judged on creativity, effort, initiatives, student empowerment, and impact. While access to school data proved difficult to obtain, teams participating in the competition were able to collect data on energy use for a period of three-weeks prior to the competition in addition to the period of time when the competition was underway, allowing for a baseline comparison. This data, in addition to anecdotal evidence captured to track additional program impacts, revealed that California’s Energy Conservation Competition cut school energy bills by 5% – 15% and successfully integrated climate education and energy efficiency into K-12 classrooms.
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