Phelps students design conservation strategy

By the Phelps Green Team and mentors. Part 1.

The Sprint to Savings has begun at Phelps ACEHS!  Amber Wirth and Kate Renner from HKS, Steve Wohlschlegel from the Integral Group and Jamie Donovan from DGS attended Mr. Vrooman’s AP Environmental Science class on Wednesday, February 5th to develop innovative ideas to encourage teachers and students to save energy at Phelps.  The end goal of the program is to save energy, and in turn, save money for the DC Public School System.  Sprint to Savings is a program to reduce energy usage at participating schools by 5 – 10% over the course of just three weeks.  The prize for reducing energy by 10% is $10,000!  The official start date for the Sprint to Savings is on Monday, February 10th!


Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School (ACEHS) is the first public high school in the country to offer both college preparatory and vocational education exclusively dedicated to the design professions and construction trades.  The students in the class leading the Sprint to Savings are focused on architecture, engineering, plumbing and Cisco IT.  


After the students introduced themselves and described what they do to be sustainable on a daily basis – turning off lights, not charging cell phones all night, conserving water and taking public transportation - the class was introduced to energy concepts including lighting levels, vampire loads, green technology already integrated into the school and conservation techniques.  Phelps ACEHS was renovated in 2008 and was the first school in the District of Columbia to certified LEED Silver.  The sustainable strategies integrated into the design include 2 vertical axle wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels on the upper roof, solar hot water to supply the kitchen and restrooms and lighting occupancy sensors.


The students hosted a visioning session to brainstorm ideas for how to reduce energy usage, encourage students and teachers to participate and ideas to incentivize energy saving school wide.  Their great ideas will lead their school to energy savings!


Energy Saving Strategies:

  • Turn off the lights!
  • Utilize the daylight available in 90% of the classrooms
  • Power Down at the end of the day (computers, printers, specialty equipment)
  • Adjust the motion light sensors to turn off after 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes
  •  Measure the lighting levels in spaces such as classrooms to ensure that spaces are not over lit and adjust to conserve energy

Campaign to promote the Sprint to Savings:  

  •  Bold Posters throughout the school to encourage turning off the lights when not needed and shutting down computers at the end of the day
  • Catchy slogans to reinforce the ideas
  • Video skits to share with the student body
  • Social media postings, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine and the school’s website
  •  Pep Rally to get the school excited about saving energy
  •  Select key members of each class to participate as Green Ambassadors

    Incentives to conserve energy:

  • Gold stars for students and teachers reducing energy usage
  • Prizes for collecting gold star
  • Competition between classes
  • Dress down day
  • Pizza Party