Sunnyside Class

Last fall, students at Elvira Elementary, Challenger Middle and Star Academic High School in the Sunnyside School District became “energy ambassadors” in their quest to save the most energy and win the “Battle of the Buildings.”

Star Academic won the 90-day competition by reducing its energy bills by an average of 4.63 percent compared to the previous year. But the district as a whole came out the real winner, as all three schools saved more than $6,800 in combined energy costs.

“The district wanted to do more to conserve energy,” said Ryan Anderson, Tucson Electric Power Senior Customer Relationship Manager. “TEP was glad to partner with them to promote energy stewardship through student education.”

Sunnyside was in the middle of implementing several energy improvements, which included the replacement of inefficient lighting district-wide with LED lighting. The lighting upgrades were funded by $812,000 in rebates earned through TEP’s Commercial Energy Solutions Program.

“We recently updated many of our systems using TEP’s energy efficiency rebates,” said Cindy Bova, Sunnyside’s Energy Manager. “So the last frontier for us was behavior management. Since students are the primary building occupants, we decided that they could have the greatest impact on energy savings.”

TEP powered the educational portion of the challenge by providing teaching materials and lessons on energy, energy efficiency and electrical safety. Students put their newfound knowledge to work forming “energy patrols,” unplugging “vampire” devices that draw energy when not in use and turning off lights and other non-essential electronics.

“The reaction from the students was really positive,” Bova said. “Not only did they help their school save energy, but the lessons that students learned in class could help them become more energy efficient at home.”

As a reward for winning the challenge, Star Academic students will be treated to a lunch party.  Meanwhile, Bova is excited to implement the educational program at other schools in the district to help Sunnyside save even more on its energy costs.