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Youth Council Monitor Electricity Consumption at Henry Street Settlement

henry street youth councilLast Friday, ten 9 and 10 year old boys and girls from the Henry Street Settlement Youth Council visited the Settlement headquarters to survey the number of electrical devices in each office. This survey is part of an effort to illustrate how staff can help reduce energy consumption. Experts participating in the Henry Street Settlement eco-charrette–a collaborative design and solutions-seeking process–that took place last year, identified occupant behavior has a huge factor in the amount of energy used. Of particular concern was the office plug loads—the amount of electricity appliances, such as computers, water coolers, microwaves, cable boxes or space heaters use while on standby.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the following plug load costs, assuming 9 cents/kilowatt/hour:
  •  Leaving a computer on when not in use: up to $60/year
  • A microwave: almost $40/year
  • A space heater: almost $30/year
While the costs associated with each device might not seem like a lot of money, in an office with a number of employees, it adds up. We want to quantify each device type and develop a strategy to increase staff awareness as to how behavior impacts electrical consumption.  As anyone who has tried knows, it can be very hard to change ingrained behavior. To help with this it seemed like a good idea to enlist the best ambassadors possible, the Henry Street Settlement Youth Council. The Youth Council will return in a week to finish their equipment survey and install watt monitors to quantify the amount of power specific devices consume.   Once the results are tallied the findings will be integrated into staff trainings on the intersection of energy efficiency and behavior, to help foster discussion and increase staff buy-in. During the Youth Council survey it was clear that staff has already become more cognizant of how their behavior impacts energy consumption, consciously or unconsciously taking in sustainability lessons from the Settlement’s energy-saving/retrofit drive.  However, there is still more to do to impact staff behavior, identify equipment that is duplicative or unnecessary and determine the equipment that is the worst “energy hog” offender. You can help the Henry Street Settlement make significant energy efficiency gains at their circa 1830s headquarter buildings by supporting them in the Partners in Preservation initiative. Vote today and every day through May 21st  at http://partnersinpreservation.com