Protecting the planet can be an overwhelming prospect. Landfills are overflowing, gasoline is being guzzled and our carbon footprint is ever-growing.
The Hernando County School Board wanted to come up with a program aimed at doing its small part to reduce energy consumption and conserve resources — and save some money.
The board issued a challenge to the district's maintenance department, and the challenge expanded into what has been dubbed the Spot the Watt program.
The premise of the program is that each school has been asked to get creative in saving energy, whether turning off computers, reducing the number of refrigerators or clearing out ventilators.
Every quarter, the maintenance department will look at the data and let the schools know how many kilowatts they've saved. At the end of the year, the schools will be recognized and awarded 1 cent for each kilowatt saved.
Since schools could save a few hundred kilowatts each month, "per quarter it could add up to a respectable amount," said Sean Arnold, the district's director of maintenance.
Bryan Blavatt, the district's superintendent, said, "It's one of those rare win-win situations. We win because it's helping the environment and the schools win because they can use the money we save directly in their programs. When a situation like that comes along, you have to take advantage of it."
Arnold said Spot the Watt is just one part of the district's sustainability program.
"Our schools are the largest energy users," he said. "We've been really conscious about the environment, water usage and energy usage, and we just want to pass that on to the schools."
Among the district's other programs is recycling, where schools are in friendly competition to see which one can produce the most recycled materials, Arnold said.
"The schools are really excited (about the district's conservation efforts) and really going at it," he said.