Monday, March 14, 2005

Introduction to the Project

The Commons Co-op was created to empower students to reduce electricity consumption at the Vermont Commons School. Each student is given one share in the Commons Co-op, the value of the share being determined by amount of money saved divided by the number of shares. Students were encouraged to reduce consumption because it is to their economic advantage. Determining the energy saved over the year is quite complicated. Students looked at the electricity bills from the last year and compared them to this year. If the school spent less money during a billing period then last year, the Commons Co-op was rewarded ½ of the savings. Conversely, if the school spent more money then the Co-op was forced to pay ½ of the difference. In addition, students developed a set of protocols for monitoring electricity, determining the energy usage of various appliances, and changes in behavior.

During the fall, the Co-op also held several meetings with the entire student body on the following proposals.

1. Elimination of several appliances to lower electricity consumption.
2. Institution of a new computer use policy.
3. Push to turn off lights in all classrooms during sunny days.

In the fall the Co-op ended up making a small amount of money. However, given that the school expanded its space by almost 30% the Co-op was a huge success. This spring we are increasing the scope of our project to engage people outside of our immediate community to get them to lower their energy consumption.


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