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Green Classroom project update – 2019 November 02

GreenClassroom project update

 

Idas Valley school efficiency drive:

Another school was excited to get involved with our project of energy efficiency and electricity savings. This time it was a school very close to the University. An energy audit of their lights was done and was found to be mostly inefficient. All outside lights and most of the inside lights were replaced at the school. This blog will entail pictures and data analysis of our findings at the school.

Green Classroom project update – 2019 August 27

GreenClassroom project update

 

Makapula school efficiency drive:

At the Kayamandi secondary school, Makapula high school, we carried out an efficiency intervention focussed on their lights. An energy audit was done and their lights were found to be inefficient. This was identified as “low-hanging fruit” and we set out to replace all the lights. The school now has better lighting for the class, they save on their electricity and they have a reduced carbon emission contribution. This blog will be expanded more to included pictures and analysis of our project.

Green Classroom project update – 2019 January 24

GreenClassroom project update

 

You will recall that late last year SUNSTEP hosted the students from Calling Education, and I attach another inspiring action photo by Liesel Koch to refresh your memories.

Although we are still struggling with the administrative processes with the WCED to get PV installed, we are slowly making progress to get the first school on PV.

Fortunately, I have some good news too! Mr. Gary Skeeles from Rhenish Primary went through an initial lighting audit with Frans from OrbitX, and for the first stage replaced some floodlights in December. The replacement cost of the nine globes (including installation) was R 14,116. In comparison, we have seen a reduction in their nightly energy usage of R1293.14, which means they will have paid off the expense in 11 months through the savings. But more importantly, the school will have an additional R1293.14 per month from November. This does not even take into account the longer lifespan of the efficient lights. The part that excites me, even more, is that they have reduced the school’s carbon footprint by 730 kg/month. This, yet again, shows the importance of considering the load efficiencies, before launching into an over-specified solar installation, but also demonstrates the importance of working with a knowledgeable partner when doing so.

More good news is that Jason has managed to optimize the solar phone charger that will be used for the SUNSTEP programme. With a few more tweaks the design should be final and ready for use.

Old:                           New: 

 

In an unprecedented move, I would like to (ab)use the opportunity to raise awareness. Our environment is very quickly deteriorating, and I urge you to peruse the following items.

My intention is not to sow panic. But, given that South Africa is one of the dirtiest in terms of electricity production, and given that we are sure to be of the first areas to suffer the consequences of climate change, I think we should take note and start to act. Each of our schools is effectively pumping 500kg of CO2 into the atmosphere daily.

 

For my previous updates, please see:

 

Green Classroom project update – 2018 December 06

GreenClassroom project update

We have had another team join Therese and Miranda at SUNStep to be trained on climate change and renewable energy sources, and to assemble and solder their own solar phone chargers. This time it was Principal Werner Cloete and his young men from Calling Academy (take a minute and look at the video explaining this very special revolutionary school at www.callingeducation.org.za).

 

 

Although extremely ambitious, we have started exploring bio-energy generation for this school since the school has to pay someone to manually remove their waste every week. If you know someone who wants to do a proof-of-concept and make a real difference by investing in our youth’s education where it is needed most, let me know. (Queen’s University of Belfast… Nudge-nudge). Thank you Ms Liesel Koch for taking the photographs.

A quick summary of how much we have saved since September at the three schools where we have PV installed with LED replacements (excluding behavioural changes).

  PV

[kWh]

LED

[kWh]

CO2 emissions prevented [kg]
AF Louw 593 87 612
Laerskool Stellenbosch 652 154 725
Rhenish Primary 586 75 595
Courtrai Primary

(one month only)

4250 3825
Total 5757

 

Then, we are just waiting on the WCED to approve Rhenish Girls High’s PV solar installation. Hopefully the department will make haste and surprise us with an early Christmas present, especially since Eskom cannot meet demand at present.  WCED… Nudge-nudge….

Finally, we are always looking for more sponsors, so please get in touch if you need to free yourself of some CSI funds.

Green Classroom project update – 2018 November 22

GreenClassroom project update

I want to send a quick update with a lesson that I do not want to dilute with too much other information.

We are delighted to announce that Courtrai Primary have joined the Green Classsroom project and will soon be added to the website.

In a drive to save on electricity, they have converted all the lights in the school to direct drive LED lights with our sponsor OrbitX’s support. The cost of the conversion was in the region of R 190,000, and resulted in an average monthly saving of 36%. The return on investment for this investment is a mere 23 months. More importantly, they have reduced their CO2 footprint by 90 kg/day. The impact is shown below. With this reduction, they can get away with a much smaller (and cheaper) solar solution.

By the next time you hear from me, Rhenish Girls High should be running on clean power from the sun.

As always, you can follow the progress on the project at www.bridgiot.co.za/blog

Green Classroom project update – 2018 November 14

GreenClassroom project update

You may have picked up that we have a formidable multi-skilled team working together to save money, save energy, and reduce our schools’ carbon footprint to help reduce climate change. One of our partners on the project is the SUNStep programme run by Miranda at Stellenbosch University’s Engineering Faculty. They invite learners to the University for a day, and educate them about climate change and renewables, and also let them solder their own solar mobile phone charger. So when we set up the Green Classroom at AF Louw in September, Therese invited Ms Tarr (the principal), who is always eager to try new things, sent her grade 7 students to join in, and ended up doing some soldering of her own. Safe to say, in addition to learning to solder, learning about the impact we have on the environment and renewable sources, the kids had a blast. We would like to thank Miranda for this fantastic initiative and for partnering with the Green Classroom project.  We were especially proud of Brian below, whose circuit worked the first time and charged his tablet, much to his excitement.

                                                                                                         

 

 

Coincidentally, we realised that the same entity funding our research in the post-graduate lab, MTN, was also the entity that started with the SUNStep programme in 1997 – exemplary corporate participation indeed.

Jason, our resident PhD student, is working on reducing the costs of the circuit board, so that we can accept even more learners next year. Please do get in touch if you would like to bring your school and/or you would like to take part in funding this important activity – it is age appropriate for grades 7 to 11.

In addition to the wonderful progress with the kids, we also have some good news to share. We have managed to get agreement from two schools to install solar power before the end of the year. I would like to thank Energy Partners for bending backwards to accommodate the school-friendly terms on the deals. Another example of exemplary corporate participation. We should have the contracts signed by the end of the year, and will reduce each school’s footprint by at least 100 kg per day. We plan to do the other three schools early in the New Year, so watch this space.

Finally, we want to congratulate Ruan, who came up with the idea for the Green Classroom – he managed to complete his final year project (on this project) today, and passed with flying colours.

Although I cannot say much more, there are two very exciting opportunities on the horizon, of which I hope to tell you more next time.

Green Classroom project update – 2018 November 05

GreenClassroom project update

Although it has been two months, the GreenClassroom project has grown in leaps and bounds. So before we run away from ourselves, let’s share some of the background, objectives, and progress.

As many of you would know, we have been helping schools with their water bills in the SmartWaterMeterProject – making them aware of their consumption and notifying them of any anomalous consumption. This was done with the Dropula in partnership with a plethora of corporate partners.

While we were working on the water project, we started investigating the opportunities of helping the schools with their electricity bills and carbon footprints too. The first thing we did was to evaluate the use of alternative power sources, such as solar (PV). Our simulations showed an opportunity to use solar power since the power profile from solar matched really well the demand profile from a typical school, which means that batteries would not be required. Moreover, the schools had large roof real-estate upon which the installations could be done. However, raising the capital for a full PV installation was never going to be easy, especially with already cash-strapped schools.

234x163 Wattson

536x140 GreenClassroom Stakeholders

Then, in August, one of the final year Engineering students (Ruan Viljoen) came up with the idea of a GreenClassroom, which he intended to be net zero energy. In a matter of days, we had partners on board, ranging from alternative light suppliers (OrbitX, a local manufacturer of direct-drive LEDs), suppliers of smart meters (us, Bridgiot, obviously), the University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), the Scatec Solar Research chair at E&E Engineering, and all the good solar partners (Energy Partners, Kigeni, Scatec), and SKEP studio architects, and Winelands Solar and RBS Electrical for the installations. Together, we set up the www.greenclassroom.co.za project, and at Laerskool Stellenbosch, Rhenish Primary, and AF Louw Primary installed a PV plant to offset the classroom, replaced the lights with LED lights, ran an awareness campaign with the teaching staff and management.

Stellenbosch Primary Green Classroom Photo

Rhenish Primary Green Classroom Photo

AF Louw Primary Green Classroom Photo

Through these GreenClassrooms, we were able to drive a campaign for change, to reduce the carbon footprint of each school.

Though installing LED lights in the classrooms, we were able to halve the energy consumption and double the light int eh classrooms.

The behavioural experiment involved two more high schools and one secondary school. We measured the energy consumption of the whole school for a few schools in Stellenbosch (I am withholding their identities to protect their privacy). These schools are three primary schools and two secondary schools. We ran a small behavioural experiment to test the impact of sending daily information to these schools. The experiment was started on 9 October, performed in the remainder of the month with the following intervention:
Intervention part 1: Sharing by email monthly, weekly and daily consumption information for every hour of the day. We expressed the information in terms of energy and monetary cost.
Intervention part 2: Giving two presentations at the school, one to the teachers and one to the assistant staff. The presentation explained the effect of greenhouse gasses and climate change, the Rand, energy and CO2 usage quantities of typical devices (e.g. refrigerators and air conditioners), and also an explanation of the electricity tariff structure imposed by the municipality.
Primary schools 1 and 2 and Secondary school A received the intervention
Primary school 3 and Secondary school B: No intervention
The preliminary results are shown below, and demonstrate the large effect of the behavioural change (10 October – 31 Oct for 2017, and 9 October – 30 October for 2018).

This is a difference-in-differences saving of 14 % in energy used.

Our next steps are to replace more inefficient lights at the schools and then to start the process to convert the whole schools to PV.

Green Classroom project update – 2018 November 01

GreenClassroom project update

We are measuring the energy consumption of the whole school for a few schools in Stellenbosch (I am withholding their identities to protect their privacy). These schools are three primary schools and two secondary schools. I have been running a small behavioural experiment to test the impact of sending daily information to these schools. The experiment was started on 9 October, performed in the remainder of the month with the following intervention:

Intervention part 1: Sharing by email monthly, weekly and daily consumption information for every hour of the day. We expressed the information in terms of energy and monetary cost.
Intervention part 2: Giving two presentations at the school, one to the teachers and one to the assistant staff. The presentation explained the effect of greenhouse gasses and climate change, the Rand, energy and CO2 usage quantities of typical devices (e.g. fridges and aircons), and also an explanation of the electricity tariff structure imposed by the municipality.
Primary schools 1 and 2 and Secondary school A received the intervention
Primary school 3 and Secondary school B: No intervention

The preliminary results are shown below, and demonstrate the large effect of the behavioural change (10 October – 31 Oct for 2017,and 9 October – 30 October for 2018).

 

This is a difference-in-differences saving of 14% in energy used.
Finally, for interest, have a look at the impact of the hot weather last week. Shown is the average daily usage for the three weeks for schools 1, 2 and 3, and the same for the two high schools. The third week was the hot one. Those aircons make a massive difference.

 

Our next steps are to replace inefficient lights at the schools, and then to start the process to convert the whole schools to PV.

Green Classroom project update – 2018 October 20

GreenClassroom project update

We are measuring the energy consumption of the whole school for a few schools in Stellenbosch (I am withholding their identities to protect their privacy). These schools are three primary schools, and I have been running a small behavioural experiment to test the impact of sending daily information to these schools. The experiment was started on 9 October, performed over two weeks and included the following two interventions:

Intervention 1: Sharing by email monthly, weekly and daily consumption information for every hour of the day. We expressed the information in terms of energy and monetary cost.

Intervention 2: Giving two presentations at the school, one to the teachers and one to the assistant staff. The presentation explained the effect of greenhouse gasses and climate change, the Rand, energy and CO2 usage quantities of typical devices (e.g. fridges and aircons), and also an explanation of the electricity tariff structure imposed by the municipality.

Primary school A:  Intervention 1 and Intervention 2

Primary school B: Intervention 1 only

Primary school C: No intervention

Unfortunately, there is still some time before the month is out, and the first week of the month was a holiday (so the daily average will rise a bit towards the end of the month), but the comparative results are very encouraging.  Especially since the first week of October was not part of the intervention.

The preliminary results are shown below, and demonstrate the large effect of the behavioural change.  The results seem to show that merely installing PV at a site without firstly running an awareness campaign and evaluating alternative solutions (e.g LED lights) may not be the best investment.

 

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