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Leveraging on its people for innovative solutions

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Students litter-picking along Kallang River next to St Andrew's Junior College in 2016.
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William Lee Choong How, teacher in charge of the junior college's Environment Club with Edric Wong Weng Kit, winner of HSBC/NYAA Youth Environmental Awards 2016.

ST Andrew's Junior College has won the EENP Award this year for Best Energy Efficiency Practices for Public Sector Agencies in the schools category.

It has been commended for good training and awareness-raising programmes involving students, solutions (interacting with a green consultancy company) to train students in basic energy auditing and for staff developing their own IT system to control the use of air-conditioning systems on campus.

Energy efficiency action plans are drawn up by the college's energy management committee (EMC). The action plans also guide the college's Environment Club in developing environmental programmes to engage students. The EMC has targeted to reduce the college's annual electricity bill by a further 2.5 per cent this year.

Through the concerted efforts of staff and students, the annual electricity consumption in the college was reduced by 4.6 per cent in 2014 and 3.4 per cent last year.

The college has followed a multi-pronged approach for raising awareness on environmental and energy conservation issues.

In 2013, it partnered the South East CDC and Chloros Solutions, a green consultancy company, to train students in basic energy auditing. The audit showed that air conditioners and the fluorescent lamps were the largest energy consumers in the college.

This led to a greater focus on monitoring the use of air conditioners and included plans to replace the fluorescent lamps with energy efficient LED lamps.

At the same time, the college has also developed its own system to control the air-conditioning systems through cost-effective android apps and SMS commands.

In addition, the venue-booking system was synchronised with the air-conditioning timer to ensure economy in the use of air conditioners.

"Improving the energy efficiency lowers energy cost as the equipment caters to the same need but at lower energy consumption. The use of technology through innovative approaches to control and reduce electricity wastage involves close monitoring of electricity usage. This can be done, for example, through remote-access controls through hand-phone applications. In the long run, as the energy efficiency is increased, the negative effect from the use of energy on global climate change is reduced," explains Bernard Chan, deputy principal, St Andrew's Junior College.

One vital benefit from having energy efficient equipment at St Andrew's Junior College is the savings in annual electricity bills. The annual electricity consumption was reduced by 4 per cent per annum over the last two years. The savings in turn can be used to purchase more energy efficient equipment, he points out.

"A key driver on promoting energy efficiency is through our students. They assisted in the energy audit of our college's energy use; and further shared their findings with our Junior School students to pass the knowledge and inculcate the sense of energy efficient accountability among the younger students. In addition, our students created a poster and shared their thoughts and reflections on energy conservation during the Clean and Green Week (in 2013) to the wider community," says Mr Chan.

He adds: "Some of our college's students were also attached to Chloros Solution as part of their work-attachment programme to experience first-hand the real-life challenges faced by environmental companies."

Among the benefits of energy efficiency promotion efforts is that the college has reduced the energy consumption in the recent years. Staff and students in the college have better awareness of energy conservation which leads them to be more proactive in managing the electricity consumption within the college.

"Our greatest asset for energy conservation and efficiency is our people - our staff and students. We collectively encourage efficient use of electricity and innovate on better ways to control energy usage," says Mr Chan.

Going forward, the college plans to continue working with its students to spread the energy efficiency message both internally and externally.

Mr Chan adds: "As an education institute, we believe that the leveraging factor from educating and creating awareness among our students is huge; as they progress to other fields beyond their JC education, they can bring this message to diverse fields. We will continue to look for innovative ways to conserve energy, such as using mobile app and equipment replacement."

According to Mr Chan, the college is delighted to be one of the winners this year. "And we are encouraged on being recognised for our effort in energy conservation in the recent years. We hope that this will continue to encourage our staff and students to be more proactive in saving energy through leveraging on technology, closer monitoring of usage, and responsible usage of electricity."