IDEA students from Pleasant Grove High School at audit of Kauer Guitars
05/01/18: Tara Alton

Sacramento students wrap up school year with local business energy audits

Over 200 students from eight middle and high schools in the Sacramento area are completing SMUD’s Energy Efficiency Career Exploration program (SEEC). Throughout the school year, the students have learned about power generation, energy efficiency and how to perform energy audits, and have explored career opportunities in the energy sector. Students’ final projects include the opportunity to perform energy audits of local businesses.

At the Sacramento Academic & Vocational Academy (SAVA), students audited a 3,800 sqft animal feed and supply store, looking for energy savings opportunities in lighting, heating and air conditioning, and appliance usage. Recommendations included more efficient insulation and upgrades to lighting, heat lamps and appliances that would result in savings for the business.

At Pleasant Grove High School, over 60 students in the Innovation, Design, and Engineering Academy (IDEA) audited a local fire station and a guitar manufacturer. They found that simple behavior changes such as turning lights off when leaving rooms and adjusting thermostats could drive substantial savings. Additionally, their recommendations for refrigerator upgrades and installation of skylights or solar tubes could result in hundreds of dollars in annual savings.

Other businesses audited by participating schools included restaurants, a laundromat, and a tire shop. In addition to the technical skills learned in performing the audits, students were required to conduct the initial outreach to businesses. The process taught students the “soft skills” required in many professional settings, including coordination with business owners and managers via phone and email, professional dress and presentation, project management, data analysis, and report writing. Susan, an 11th grader at Pleasant Grove, summed up her experience in the program, “Not only did I learn about the importance of saving energy and how it is influenced throughout work and my life in general, I was able to learn how to work with others as a team and help people outside of school.”