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Home > Sponsored > “Energy Efficiency Day” on Oct. 7 spotlights opportunities for Nevada schools (sponsored)

“Energy Efficiency Day” on Oct. 7 spotlights opportunities for Nevada schools (sponsored)

By ThisIsReno

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Reno-based Envirolution assists student-driven lighting upgrade at Dayton Intermediate School in Lyon County; school will save tens of thousands of dollars on energy costs and reduce pollution

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Reno-based “Envirolution,” NV Energy, and the Lyon County School District have joined dozens of clean energy advocacy groups, hundreds of prominent organizations, companies, and government agencies across the country to commemorate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020 as national “Energy Efficiency Day.” 

Supporters have a simple but powerful message highlighting why we should be more energy efficient: “Save Money. Cut Pollution. Create Jobs.” 

Nevada Governor Sisolak also issued a proclamation for Energy Efficiency Day, highlighting its many benefits to Nevada and the nation. 

Energy efficiency has a powerful economic impact on Nevada. There were 11,988 Nevadans working in energy efficiency jobs in 2019 according to the 2019 Clean Jobs Nevada analysis of energy jobs data by the national nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).  

Nevada makes strides in energy efficiency

Saving energy in homes and businesses are vital components to statewide energy efficiency. Nevada’s electric and natural gas utilities have played an important role in helping their consumers save energy.

For example, Nevada made significant strides in becoming more energy efficient over the past year through NV Energy’s energy efficiency programs, noted Tom Polikalas, the Nevada representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), a public interest organization. These programs range from a free in-home energy assessment to a wide variety of business energy services including incentives for more efficient lighting, HVAC systems, refrigeration, commercial kitchen equipment, and custom projects.

“We commend NV Energy for helping its customers save 327 gigawatt-hours per year of electricity savings–an amount of energy equal to the energy use of over 30,000 homes,” said Polikalas. “This was the highest level of energy savings achieved by the company in the past decade and represents a 51% increase over the energy savings achieved the previous year. The energy savings achieved from 2019 programs were equivalent to 1.15% of retail electricity sales by the company.” 

“NV Energy is always looking for ways to help our customers better manage their energy use,” said Chad Piekarz, PowerShift by NV Energy project manager. “One of our newest offerings is the free PowerShift Qualified Appliance Replacement service, designed to help our residential customers save on monthly bills. For those who meet income eligibility requirements we replace select older, inefficient household appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models, at no cost. It’s another way we support our customers to increase their savings on monthly utility bills.”

david bobzien
David Bobzien

The state’s elected leaders have also been instrumental in putting policies in place that make Nevada more energy efficient. 

“We thank Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature for supporting robust efficiency standards for general service lamps through the passage of AB54 during the 2019 session,” said David Bobzien, director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (NGOE.) “We look forward to continuing our work with legislators, consumers, utilities, businesses, and stakeholders in making Nevada even more energy efficient, improving Nevada’s economy, environment, clean energy workforce and future.” 

A student-driven project will save Dayton Intermediate School school tens of thousands of dollars on energy costs and reduce pollution. Eighth graders on the school’s robotics team initiated a lighting retrofit that’s a shining example to public and private sectors.

Where will Nevada and our nation find leaders who can help address the growing problems of economic pressure and climate change? The robotics team at Dayton Intermediate School in rural Lyon County, Nevada, is one place that should be tapped first. Eighth graders Zoee Wass and Evan Moyer led their robotics team in the conceptualization and implementation of a project that will save their school thousands of dollars a year while also reducing greenhouse gasses. 

“These young people were amazing to work with; they’re truly impressive,” said Vanessa Robertson, Co-Executive Director of Envirolution, a Reno-based non-profit organization working to help Nevada’s schools be more sustainable. 

Through Envirolution’s project-based program, Project ReCharge, Zoee, Evan, and other students at Dayton Intermediate School discovered that by replacing the school’s 25 watt fluorescent tubes with 15 watt LED tubes, the school could save close to $9,000 a year in energy savings while offsetting over 128,000 lbs of CO2.  

“The students went through the computations themselves and they know the numbers, including energy savings, payback, and other benefits,” said Dusti Houk, an 8th grade STEM teacher at Dayton Intermediate who advises the robotics team. “This is fantastic experiential learning in a number of areas with the addition of a bit of project management experience too.”

Dusti Houk (back row, left) and the Dayton Intermediate School’s Robotics Team at a competition in December 2019. Image: DIS

“This real world learning provides valuable workforce development as students learn how to solve energy and sustainability problems in their home, school and community,” said Houk.  

“It was really cool to see how much of a difference something as small as changing out lightbulbs can have,” added eighth grader Zoee Waas. 

“We’re so proud of our students,” said Kevin Kranjcec, principal at Dayton Intermediate. “They’ve done a tremendous job with a positive impact on their education through this process as well as their saving Dayton Intermediate and Lyon County School District approximately $9,000 over the course of a year.” 

The project also showcases that energy efficiency is an extremely cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gasses and other emissions, explained Robertson. “The investment in LED lighting will pay for itself in about a year through savings on utility bills.”

Dayton Intermediate didn’t need to invest the money for the retrofit, thanks to Envirolution working with NV Energy and the utility’s “Smart Schools” program. Funding for energy-saving LEDs came from a $4,440 NV Energy Smart Schools Rebate along with a grant provided by Tesla and its K-12 Nevada Education Gift fund. 

“Schools that are working with Envirolution have agreed to provide the rebates from NV Energy to help finance projects in other schools,” said Robertson. “A previous student lighting retrofit at Pyramid Lake Jr/Sr. School was the source of the rebate funds used at Dayton Intermediate.”

“Once the lighting project at Dayton is completed, the rebate will be used to fund the next student project,” Robertson explained. 

To date, 13 student projects working with Envirolution’s Project ReCharge have been implemented and have saved Nevada schools $640,000 in energy costs by reducing energy use equivalent to the annual usage of over 700 average American homes. 

“Project ReCharge’s interactive lessons prepare students for Nevada’s growing sustainable economy as they learn about energy generation, consumption and efficiency,” added Robertson.

There are a lot of challenges the world is facing including economic and environmental pressures. The students at Dayton Intermediate are bright lights in these sometimes dark times, helping to light the way to a better future.

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