New Monitoring Method Aids PA To 4th in GCC

Phillips Academy’s success to date in the 2008 Green Cup Challenge may not simply be a reflection of community efforts. This year, the 29 participating schools are using a new method to determine the baseline for comparing energy consumption. Two weeks into this year’s Green Cup Challenge, Phillips Academy has reduced its energy consumption by 18.53 percent, putting Phillips Academy in fourth place. This appears to be a vast improvement from last year’s total average reduction of 3.7 percent, which put Andover in eighth place out of 15 schools. A new method for calculating a school’s baseline may explain why Andover’s decrease in energy consumption is so much higher than last year’s. According to Sustainability Coordinator Rebecca Bogdanovitch, all competing schools in the 2008 Green Cup Challenge were given two new options for determining their baseline. “Our baseline is very different from last year, but everyone’s baseline is different from last year,” said Bogdanovitch. “We really can’t compare last year to this year. We can compare our habits—if our community is more involved this year or more knowledgeable this year—but in terms of actual numbers, we can’t compare. But no school can compare to last year.” One method is to take an average of energy consumption from the past three Februaries in 2007, 2006 and 2005. Andover is currently using this method to calculate its baseline. As reported in The Phillipian on February 1, 2008, Phillips Academy has a baseline number of 211,419 Kilowatt hours, equivalent to about $27,000 of energy bills, according to Associate Director of Maintenance and Utilities Carlos Montanez. Bogdanovitch said, “One thing that we found this year was that we could actually use the same month that we’re monitoring, February, for the baseline. It gives us a better sense of what’s been happening in Februaries over the last couple of years, versus using January.” She continued, “Last year, we found that January was quite a bit warmer than February, so even though the community is working to reduce consumption, because it was so much colder, the campus just naturally needed more power.” The other baseline option is to average energy consumption from November 2006, January 2007 and February 2007. For some schools that have not been able to keep track of their energy consumption as far back as 2005, this was the only viable option for them to calculate a baseline. Bogdanovitch said, “Some schools don’t necessarily have the resources. They haven’t been keeping track of their energy uses for their campus in the last couple of years, whereas we have good data on that.” Some student environmental leaders, known as E-Stewards, have conflicting opinions over whether these two methods for capturing baselines create discrepancies between schools. “At first, I was a little bit skeptical about the 18 percent, especially since people last year were a lot more cognizant about the fact that the Green Cup Challenge was going on,” said E-Steward Rosie Raymond-Sidel ’08. “If we can sustain the 18 percent reduction, it’s possible that the message is getting across, which is good. But I myself haven’t seen 18 percent of changes across campus, so there’s got to be something going on behind the scenes,” said E-Steward Rosie Raymond-Sidel ’08. “I think for our purposes it’s fair because we’re able to see how much we’re actually saving for the same time every year,” said E-Steward Joel Camacho ’08. He added, “However it does get a little iffy when you have different schools using two different ways of monitoring their energy baseline.” Each school competing in the Green Cup Challenge chose their baseline after a conversation with the school’s facility directors to determine available data. According to Bogdanovitch, about half the schools went with one method of baseline calculation and the other half went with the alternate method. “I left it up to OPP [the Office of Physical Plant] to decide the best way to find our baseline. I think a lot of it came from the fact that we wanted to track any trends we had in the last couple years in the month of February, because that was something that we were interested in, and also we had good data on it,” said Bogdanovitch. Bogdanovitch said that Phillip Academy’s leap from four percent consumption reduction in the 2007 Green Cup Challenge to this year’s 18 percent reduction could not be used as an accurate way to determine any change in campus usages from 2007 to 2008. This year, PA’s baseline is slightly higher than last year’s because it incorporates more data from previous years, which Bogdanovitch said makes it easier for Phillips Academy to make an impact on energy reduction. However, she also said other schools have comparably high percentages in reduction. Last year, the Millbrook School won the Green Cup Challenge with a 16.3 percent reduction in energy consumption. This year, in the second week of the competition, four schools including Andover have over 18 percent reduction in electrical use compared to their baseline averages. Bogdanovitch said, “For the most part, baselines have gotten larger overall just because of the way that you capture the baseline, but everyone’s percentages have also shifted up.” “The fact of the matter is that no matter how you set your baseline, you’re going to get schools with differences,” said Raymond-Sidel. “But the point of the competition is to educate future generations on the problems of global climate change.”