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photo of Littlebrook students working to reduce energy usage
The Spring 2024 Energy Savings Showdown challenged Princeton Public Schools to reduce their energy usage. Sponsored by Sustainable Princeton, it was a challenge that sparked excitement, particularly at Littlebrook where students and staff have significantly lowered the school's energy use over the past two months, with a decrease of 10-12%.
How did the Littlebrook team accomplish so much?
“Reducing the amount of electricity used by Littlebrook has been a group effort,” says Martha Friend, Littlebrook's STEAM teacher.
The idea of focusing on energy reduction was introduced to all students during STEAM classes, she said.
“To start us off, classes shared thoughts about all the things they could control about school energy usage, and those we could not,” she said. It was decided that focusing on one behavior might be the most effective.
“We decided we would simply turn off the lights when not needed, or even just use some of the lights instead of all of the lights.” This “lights off” strategy was a a full-school effort, (preK through grade 5) that involved all staff members and students.
Here are some steps that Littlebrook took to reduce energy usage:
  • During STEAM classes Ms. Friend worked with students and clarified connections between greenhouse gases and electricity consumption. For primary students, it was described this as a “healthy planet” choice.
  • Fourth and Fifth graders used Kill-a-Watt meters to compare electricity usage of different light bulbs and electrical appliances to understand how much electricity everyday objects use.
  • Reminders about the importance of turning off lights when not needed were included in the Littlebrook morning announcements.
  • Information about the energy competition was included in the Littlebrook newsletter to families.
  • Some classes created a new “light manager” job and other classes felt proud that they already had one.
  • Lunch assistants supported students requesting lights off in the cafeteria.
  • There was a school-wide effort to unplug all electrical appliances in classrooms and the staff room (even one of the staff refrigerators) over spring break.
  • Students were empowered to turn off lights in classrooms they passed if someone forgot. The exception were the lights in the bathroom which always stayed on.
  • Littlebrook electrical data for March was shared during all STEAM classes and posted in the lobby to reinforce effectiveness of the “lights off” behavior change.


By Jenny Ludmer
Sustainable Princeton

Report from Jenny Ludmer
screenshot of report by Sustainable Princeton



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