Though most area elementary and middle schools naturally practice smart energy habits, the Kyrene School District is promoting a Power Challenge this year to reduce its consumption by nearly 12 percent.

Kyrene’s Power Challenge will track the amount of conserved energy at all 25 schools based on the past year’s usage. Every month, the school that saves the most energy will be given an award from the Power Challenge’s local sponsors.

The district aims to save 2,800,000 kilowatt-hour, which is 11.5 percent of its current use.

With that goal of reduced energy, the district projects a $350,000 savings for the fiscal year.

Though the aim in energy reduction seems steep, Principal Ev Michell of Centennial Middle School in Ahwatukee thinks it can be done.

“If we do our part and everyone else does too, we’ll save it,” Michell said of the projected savings.

Michell said Centennial has taken a practical and simple approach to saving energy at the school, even before the Power Challenge was implemented.

“We’ve made it a part of our life so that we’re naturally doing it,” Michell said.

Teachers and students at the school near 36th Street and Ranch Circle North have made efforts like turning off lights when not in use and keeping outside doors closed part of their daily routines.

Those small efforts, Michell said, also serve as life skills for students that they can carry over into their at-home life.

Utilizing skylights in classrooms on sunny days and unplugging small appliances when not in use are also efforts teachers make.

The Power Challenge was first introduced to the district in January, and was confirmed earlier this month during a district governing board meeting.

Kyrene has saved about 25 percent in energy consumption in recent years, said Jeremy Calles, the district’s chief financial officer.

This year, the 23rd school in Kyrene has received an SRP Energy Star rating.

Calles agreed that showing students the “little things” in energy savings prove to add up every month.

The challenge’s sponsors include Brunswick Zone, Peter Piper Pizza, Airworx, Skateland, and the Phoenix Zoo. While the award will be announced in late September, with prizes given to every student attending the winning school, Centennial mentioned that they are keeping their eye on the real prize.

“It should be more of a way of life, rather than doing it to earn a big award,” said Michell. “That’s the approach we’ve taken here.”

For more information about the Kyrene Power Challenge and its sponsors, visit kyrene.org.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com

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