Energy Use in NYC Schools is Down 11% Since 2008. Thanks to Post-It Notes.


Photo credit: paulinaclemente via Flickr/CC BY

Okay, it's not just thanks to Post-Its. But they helped. A report in today's New York Times documents how the region's schools drastically cut their energy consumption. Like the story about Tokyo slashing its energy bills with voluntary citizen rationing, the story provides a refreshing reminder of how powerful good ol' fashioned conservation measures can be. Here's the NY Times:

Simple yellow Post-it notes with the message "When not in use, turn off the juice," pointedly left on classroom computers, printers and air-conditioners, have helped the Mount Sinai School District on Long Island save $350,000 annually on utility bills.

Energy consumption in New York City's 1,245 school buildings is down roughly 11 percent since 2008, as motion detectors have been installed on classroom lights and unused refrigerators and freezers have been unplugged for the summer.

In Yonkers, energy savings have financed $18 million in new boilers, windows and other capital improvements that the Westchester County district could not otherwise afford.

The story details how the school districts have accomplished these money-saving feats -- basically, through education campaigns (turn off the lights when you're not using them, etc), energy reduction policies (keeping fridges unplugged when not in use) and doing simple things like adding oversight responsibilities to assistant principals' duties. Some districts have assigned 'Energy Managers' who basically check in on campuses and make sure everything's running smoothly. They walk around and chat with janitors and note further conservation ideas. And they can reduce energy use by up to 30% if they're diligent.

It's important to recognize how simple this is. Fear-mongers talk about the specter of 'energy-rationing' rising up and stealing our freedom -- well, this is what it looks like. It's a dude in slacks who makes sure folks remember to turn the break room light off when they leave. And clearly, it works -- the whole report is yet another reminder that there's vast energy-saving potential to be found nearly everywhere. We just have to be willing to work for it a bit.

Related Content on