Despite a growing student population, St. Johnsbury Academy is finding ways to reduce its electrical energy consumption, according to a report on the results of a nationwide contest.

SJA reduced its electrical energy use by 177 kilowatt hours during the final week of the four-week, student-led Green Cup Challenge, which measures current consumption against the same period during the past three years.

The Academy's Challenge effort incorporated and built on a Capstone research project undertaken during the first semester by senior Ningyi Xi, a boarding student from China, designed to develop ways to encourage the school's faculty, staff and students to lower their energy use.

This semester, seniors Lucas Wilkins and Michael LeClerc, both Waterford residents, received approval to enter the competition as part of their Capstone Project, then helped record and document the Academy's energy use during the competition period.

Although SJA's student body is six percent larger than a year ago, including a 20 percent increase in the number of boarding students living in dormitories, the school used only 6.3 percent more electricity during this year's competition period than in comparable periods the preceding three years, the students reported during a Feb. 21 Chapel assembly.

"Even though we did not decrease our electrical energy consumption, the Challenge allowed us to compare our overall electricity usage to other schools, and the Academy is fairly efficient in its use of electricity compared to other northeastern independent schools," the report said. "The Academy currently uses 27 percent less energy per square foot of indoor space than the average of the 32 northeastern boarding schools in the Challenge (and) 11 percent less energy per square foot than the average of 13 northeastern day schools."

The students also reported the Academy's electricity usage per capita is only 1 percent higher than the average northeastern day school. "This is impressive considering that one quarter of our student population is residential," they added.

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