Cashmere High School a finalist in global energy competition

Issue: Volume 94, Number 2

Posted: 9 February 2015
Reference #: 1H9cqT

A team from Christchurch’s Cashmere High School recently made the shortlist finals in a prestigious global energy sustainability competition, after helping cut electricity usage at their school by almost one third.

The team, made up of students and teacher Leith Cooper, eventually came second behind Melbourne Girls’ College in the $100,000 Zayed Future Energy Prize, which was established in 2008 by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Cashmere High School contested the final with two other schools from the Oceania region, including Melbourne Girls’ College and the Lume Rural Training Centre in southern Vanuatu. The prize was awarded in Abu Dhabi on 19 January.

Cashmere High School principal Mark Wilson says the students and their teacher had worked hard on the project over the last couple of years.

“The entire school is immensely proud of the students and their teacher, who have developed and implemented some innovative new strategies for our school to reduce energy consumption and gain greater knowledge around energy use,” Mr Wilson says.

Cashmere installed six ‘smart meters’ to measure the electricity used around the school every 30 minutes and two LCD screens to display real-time results. A “Switch it off” campaign encouraged students to turn off lights and heating in classrooms when not needed, cutting electricity use by 10 per cent and saving more than $12,000. Last year energy-efficient LED lights were also installed throughout the school. Altogether energy use has fallen by 29 per cent at the school.

In 2012 Cashmere High School was selected as part of a pilot programme to reduce power use and develop energy efficient practices with funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), the Canterbury Agency for Energy, and the Ministry of Education. Enviroschools created and supplied the education resources for the pilot programme.

“We’re really impressed that Cashmere High School not only engaged so enthusiastically in the pilot, but also used it as a springboard for their own initiatives. They are setting an excellent example for incorporating sustainability in everyday school life, and we hope other schools will be inspired by Cashmere High School students’ efforts,” says Kim Shannon, Head of the Education Infrastructure Service at the Ministry of Education.

“There are three other schools which took part in the pilot programme, and they are also demonstrating a commitment to sustainable energy practices.”

Ms Shannon said the school’s energy savings are in line with evidence from the Ministry’s energy efficiency programmes, which identified that most schools could potentially save up to 40 per cent of their energy bills through simple efficiency measures. The Ministry has been working with schools around New Zealand to achieve this.

The energy efficiency pilot aimed to develop an education programme that could eventually be adopted by schools nationwide, as part of their energy efficiency and sustainability work. The programme is designed to create awareness among students that will encourage them to make energy efficiency part of their lives. The results of the pilot are being analysed by all agencies involved, with a view to assessing the programme’s suitability for a wider roll-out.

“Saving energy through efficiency will free up much needed cash, but the lessons pupils will learn from the programme will go beyond the school gate, encouraging wise energy use at home and throughout their lives,” says EECA chief executive Mike Underhill.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize

The Zayed Future Energy Prize recognises individuals, organisations, and schools who have contributed significantly to the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.
Launched by the UAE Government in 2008, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has a vision for a new energy future; a future in which the world has access to energy that is sustainable, accessible, affordable and inspiring to the next generation of global energy innovators.

Over the past six years, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has rewarded 30 innovators, and awarded more than US $18 million.

On 19 January 2015, the Zayed Future Energy Prize recognised another group of winners in the following five categories:

  • Large Corporation (a recognition award)
  • Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) (US $1.5 million)
  • Non-Profit Organisation (NGO) (US $1.5 million)
  • Lifetime Achievement (US $500,000)
  • Global High Schools (US $100,000 to one high school from each of five regions: 
  • Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania)

Visit the Zayed Future Energy Prize website(external link) for more information.


The Enviroschools Foundation is a not-for-profit trust that supports children and young people to be active citizens, contributing to ecological regeneration and the creation of healthy, resilient and sustainable communities. The enviroschools programme is being implemented in early childhood, primary, intermediate and secondary school settings. You can find out more about Enviroschools(external link) including video case studies. 

Examining school energy efficency

The pilot undertaken by Cashmere High School is designed to utilise the process of energy monitoring and targeting to educate students as well as inform future efficiency measures. EECA provides excellent information addressing school energy efficiency on their website.

The Ministry is currently working with around 25 schools and providers to explore various ideas that can help to improve school energy efficiency, and generate operational savings.

As a starting point, this investigation has shown that schools use up to 50 per cent of their energy after hours, on weekends and during holidays. While there will always be a need to power essential services, the Ministry is looking at ways in which schools could reduce energy through simple infrastructure projects such as time clocks for heating and ventilation.

While results are not yet available, early indications are that substantial energy savings can be made. Schools like Cashmere High have provided invaluable data which will contribute to more concrete conclusions when results have been analysed.
One way schools interested in beginning an energy efficiency programme can get started is to contact one of EECA’s Business Partners, who can be found on the EECA website(external link)

These partners can advise as to the implementation of an energy monitoring and targeting programme for your learning centre.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 6:31 PM, 9 February 2015

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