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School's sustainability is increasingly productive

Teacher and students audit energy consumption at Huntington Beach High School and look into selling conservation kits.

December 26, 2012|By Andrew Shortall
  • Christina Mullenix, 17, and other students in her class on a sustainability work on coating the lights and everything that uses electricity at Huntington Beach High School. The students are doing an audit of the school's electricity in an attempt to find ways to save the district money.
Christina Mullenix, 17, and other students in her class… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Huntington Beach High School's Sustainability Club is exactly what its name suggests. It's self sufficient after just three years of being in existence, not relying on the Huntington Beach Union High School District for any funding.

"The Sustainability program is definitely sustainable, it doesn't cost taxpayers or the district a dollar," said Greg Goran, Huntington Beach High Sustainability Club director and teacher of social studies and an Environmental Awareness and Responsibility class. "We actually generate money for the district."

Goran hopes the club can increase what it raises for the district. It currently generates about $500 a month through its recycling program and organic garden, the produce from which is sold to SlapFish — a sustainable seafood restaurant in Huntington Beach.

About three weeks ago, Goran had the about 35 students in his Environmental Awareness and Responsibility class, which is part of the club, begin an energy audit at Huntington Beach High.

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Groups of four or five students were given designated areas of campus to make note of every device that consumes water, electricity or gas. An outside energy-auditing company will handle some of the devices the students can't reach or see.

It will create a baseline of what utilities the school uses in a month and Goran's class will come back to the district to make recommendations on how the school can lower its monthly bill.

"I think it will be shocking to the public when we show how much can be saved with our program," said Goran, who declined not to estimate how much money that could be.

Those savings can come pretty easily, Goran said, by unplugging unused computers and turning off gym lights that are currently kept on all day and monitoring the school's use of the air conditioner.

He said it's hard to make those suggestions without evidence or signs of what the school and district can save on its utility bills.

"[The district] needs to see that proof first," said Goran, who estimated the audit would be finished in about two months. "You've got to give them the numbers and the dollars… you don't even mention resources or the environment. You almost have to turn it around and say you can save money and the environmental stuff is the tail end."

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