Moneygall National School is a mixed primary school in Offaly. There are 70 students and five teaching staff. They were awarded the Green Flag for Energy in May 2016.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
To compete for a place on the Green-Schools committee, students from first to sixth class were asked to write a short essay on why they would like to be on the committee and the importance of Green-Schools. Senior infant students were asked to draw a picture. The best entry from each class was selected and the student represented their class on the committee. The committee is made up of nine student’s teachers, two teachers and two parents. The committee meet once a month and sometimes during lunch time on rainy days. At busier times of the year, for example during surveys, they meet more often.
Step 2: Environmental Review
For their environmental review, the committee members found out that the school uses oil as their energy source for heating. The heating is turned on from 9am to 2pm every day, and the majority of oil orders were between October and April. The electricity usage over the previous year was recorded using the bills, and reading the meter. The committee carried out an appliance, lighting and socket audit and mapped their results. The students and parents were surveyed on their knowledge of renewable energy. A draft and insulation survey was carried out to determine where cold air was entering and heat was lost from the school building. The standby survey showed that 90% of the appliances were not on standby. However, some appliances that were rarely used, e.g. CD players were left on standby.
Step 3: Action Plan
The Action Plan started with a number of actions and surveys in order to complete a detailed Environmental Review. Along with the audits mentioned above, some of their most successful actions included:
- Complete energy survey to determine awareness
- Inform parents about the aims of Green-Schools
- “How can we save energy?” poster competition
- Daily meter reading
- Calculate daily and weekly electricity usage
- Analysis of energy bills
- Hold “Green-Schools code” competition
- Green action day- all students wearing green clothes
- Draw up an energy saving checklist
- Register for and conduct a National Spring Clean
- Conduct light and appliance audit
- Create Green-Schools art and information board
- Install energy saving sensor lights in school
- Include green energy tips in school newsletter
- Energy quiz
Step 4: Monitoring/Evaluation
Progress is being monitored and evaluated by checking the oil and electricity bills each month and comparing usage to the previous month. The amount of the time the school was heated each day was reduced by 1.5 hours in order to save energy and this saved the school €482.14, accounting for a 10% decrease in orders of oil.
Despite introducing similar measures to reduce the amount of electricity used in the school, the usage of electricity increased by approximately 50% in the period investigated. Many measures were introduced to encourage switching off lights, turning appliances off properly etc. so the results were surprising. The two main reasons suggested for this usage increase are the 20% increase in number of students and the increase in use of technology in the classroom i.e. interactive whiteboards and printers. Also, the school received an electrical upgrade in 2014. I was thought that that this would make an older system a lot more efficient but with the introduction of sensor lights in toilets and general areas resulted in less control of the light switches. A faulty alarm could be another possible energy guzzler in the school.
Step 5: Curriculum work
|Subject||Environmental Issue Covered|
|History||History of electricity|
|Irish||Eadaí agus Aimsir|
|SPHE||Create awareness of the need for a clean environment for everyone|
|Music||Composing music/percussion to go with the green code|
Step 6: Informing and Involving
- The committee informed the whole school and wider community using various mediums. For example:
- Held a day of action involving a low energy day, a spring clean and all students wore green to raise awareness of energy.
- Five Green-Schools competitions were run throughout the school year
- Announcements by the Green-Schools committee over the intercom
- Classroom representatives and members of the ‘click-team’ were rotated
- Green-Schools notice board
- Information was sent to parents as part of the newsletter or via text message
- Advice sheets were sent home to help parents reduce energy consumption
- Information leaflets on energy were created
- Eight of 40 families in the school were represented on this year’s Green-Schools committee. Last year, a different 15 families were represented.
Step 7: Green code
Energy misused cannot be excused
The children and staff are more conscious of energy conservation both for the school and the wider community and see the benefits both financially and environmentally of reducing energy usage.