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Earth Hour Participation throughout the School Community
Last year, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board decided that they wanted to engage not just their schools, but the entire Kawartha Pine Ridge family in Earth Hour - staff, students and families at home.

At first, this seemed like it would be a huge task as the board did not wish to task staff members with another "extra" duty to perform. They also wanted do this without adding any extra environmental impact by printing such things as memos and posters. However, what seemed to be a daunting task turned out to be quite simple.

Two people, including KPR's EcoSchool Rep, engaged people in the board office and spread out simple and small tasks that would not over-burden volunteers. This ensured a high level of buy-in and participation.

Spreading the Word
The board first announced that KPR would be participating in Earth Hour via email, with an attached wallpaper that could be saved and used on a computer. Permission was obtained to use the poster and attach the board logo. The intent was that when the wallpaper was installed on computers, a gentle reminder about Earth Hour would greet the user each day.
click for wallpaper - when image appears, right-click to download

As the board moved closer to Earth Hour, they developed a KPR Earth Hour Website as a means to measure their impact. The intent was for participants to log back onto the website and declare the fact that they would participate. However the board was faced with the challenge of how to get the message out to the entire KPR system without printing materials.

The board's IT department had recently purchased a phone system that had the ability to dial out to registered home telephone numbers of families that have students at KPR's schools. The main purpose of this system is to be used in the event of an emergency at a school. This new system had the ability to reach all KPR households, however it had never been used or tested in this way.

On the Friday before Earth Hour, the board sent out over 60,000 phone calls encouraging households to participate in Earth Hour at home and asking them to register back at the KPR main website if they participated. Registrants were automatically sent back an electronic certificate thanking them for participating. click for certificate - when image appears, right-click to download

The board expected around 200-300 hits, however, they registered 1061 hits. They realized that they could not identify if one hit represented one family or if one household made multiple hits. The board is pleased that their message made an impact not just at their schools but with KPR families in their homes. In the end, the board only published one large poster, announcing their success. Download Poster (PDF)

Measuring Consumption Savings
A number of schools participated in Earth Hour the Friday before the official day. To measure actual consumption numbers, the board requested head custodians to record meter readings one hour before, at the start and at the end when the school performed their exercise. However the decline in consumption was small and difficult to record so the board extracted total consumption for each school and calculated what the impact would be if there was a blackout at a school for an hour. It was quickly calculated that the savings were small, however they were able to publicly announce that KPR reduced their carbon foot print by about 1 ton of CO2 gas.

Overall Impact
The board was pleased with their ability to reach so many people, and creating a means to measure the level of participation made taking part in Earth Hour worthwhile. In the early stages of planning for 2009, it seems that the school board will promote and participate in the same manner as last year. The only difference may be a change in the way participants register their participation online; there may be able to record data that will indicate the number of people per household that are participating in Earth Hour.

In the final analysis, the board tested their electronic systems, printed one poster, reached 60,000 households, and engaged 1061 families in energy conservation.  The project was considered a successful awareness raising activity with relatively little time and effort spent by the board.


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