Tempe Union High School District Links Learning with Innovative Sustainability and Energy Education Program to Enhance Student Success

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) and Chevron Energy Solutions today announced the launch of an innovative cross-curricular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and sustainability program designed to give students a greater understanding of today's energy and environmental issues. As part of this program, students at each campus will be able to access Living Laboratories at campuses across the District, where they can conduct tests of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Each Living Laboratory contains data collection devices, such as meters, data loggers, and network controllers that transmit operational and environmental data to a web-based telemetry system, bringing real-world relevance to students. Each Living Laboratory will also integrate with a web-based dashboard, supporting new cross-curricular lesson planning and curriculum development. Real data, resource materials and general information about the equipment will combine to provide students inquiry-based opportunities to conduct research, compile data and formulate and test hypotheses. Several of the Living Laboratories are designed to allow for future modification and expansion to ensure they remain rigorous and relevant, and showcase cutting-edge technologies.

"Tempe Union High School District discovered several years ago that studying both sustainability and energy offered an extraordinary opportunity for learning, career preparation and citizenship for our students," said Greg Wyman, associate superintendent at Tempe Union High School District. "This significant accomplishment for our District offers an extraordinary opportunity for learning and positions our new generation to build a more diverse, energy-efficient and sustainable tomorrow."

TUHSD's individual Living Laboratories will include the following key features:

  • Tempe High School has eight classrooms fitted with different lighting technologies and controls making up a Lighting Technology Lab. Each classroom has individual energy recording capability.  Adjacent classrooms can be configured with new technologies in the future to allow for continued study.
  • McClintock High School offers a roof-mounted solar thermal collector system that produces domestic hot water for use in its cafeteria. This Solar Thermal Lab includes two types of solar thermal collectors and other features that support comparative learning.
  • Marcos de Niza High School has a natural gas powered heat pump system that provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), demonstrating the concept of "site versus source" energy.
  • Corona del Sol High School has a natural gas powered fuel cell that generates emission-free electricity and showcases on-site power generation.
  • Mountain Pointe High School plans to have an energy storage system showcasing cutting-edge battery technology to power a greenhouse. This Laboratory is expected to be complete in November 2012.
  • Desert Vista High School has an existing solar PV system installed from the SRP Solar for Schools Program. This PV system is being converted into a Living Laboratory, and its data is expected to integrate with the dashboard/telemetry system.
  • Compadre High School has an integrated solar canopy and electric car charging station expected to be complete in November 2012.  This system demonstrates the potential of solar-powered transportation.

Chevron Energy Solutions designed, engineered and implemented the comprehensive program of facility upgrades, including the installation of the Living Laboratories at six schools while using the existing photovoltaic system at Desert Vista High School for better teacher and student integration with the dashboard and telemetry system. As a component of the District's Innovative Energy Solutions and Sustainability Project, the program is designed to help schools reduce energy and maintenance costs, improve the learning environment, engage students and expand cross-curricular experiences with STEM education.

"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for environmentally sustainable operations at Tempe Union High School District – one that will allow its students, faculty and the community the opportunity to experience the benefits of combining sustainability and energy science education," said Chevron Energy Solutions President Jim Davis. "The District has created a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other districts dedicated to investing in transformative, sustainable programs."

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