Reed High School rocks energy efficiency, wins $12k

By Grace Field, student at Reed High School in Sparks, NV, representing the the Eco-Warriors

"Have you ever walked into a bathroom with the sinks running, lights buzzing, and trash cans filled to the brim with paper towels? This is the typical life of a bathroom at Reed High School. A tight-knit group got together in order to fight off these daily evils: we are the Eco-Warriors!

Let's start off with the obvious: Reed High is a very old school. Since it was built in 1974, things like toilets, sinks, and lights are quite out-dated and affect the environment more than the students know. Unnecessary amounts of water and energy are wasted because of the lack of renovation. The Green Nevada Sustainability Competition allowed our new club, the Eco-Warriors, to brainstorm something sweet and simple: Greener bathrooms!

By getting together every Thursday and sometimes on the weekends, we came up with a reasonable and passionate sustainability plan:

1) Automatic lights would fix the issue of our bathroom lights being run from morning until 10pm at night (we found this to be such a waste!).

2) Censored sinks would stop the continuous dripping from the traditional "knob" faucets which no one bothered to turn off or were just plain broken. We were also hoping to see people wash their hands more often because of the new convenience.

3) We also wanted to install dual flush valves to the toilets to reduce the amount of gallons per flush from 6 to as low as 1.1!

4) Another thing we planned was to place stickers on the paper towel dispensers to remind students to use just a little less paper. We're hoping, in the future, we can consider installing air hand dryers to eliminate paper use all together.

Who doesn't want to save water, energy, and paper in a desert?! Our plan clearly takes a simple idea and fixes it to be a major money-saver and beneficial to the environment.

The presentation process was a lot of fun, and rehearsal for it got us really pumped. We really wanted to leave a lasting impression on Reed High by making it more sustainable. On the day of the competition, we presented along with 8 other schools. There was such a variety of great ideas, and it was good to know that other schools were on the same page by wanting a greener future.

The feeling was so exhilarating when we won first place! We received $12,000 for our project, a great amount to get the ball rolling. Now we are working harder than ever to get the word out, and to start the green bathroom makeovers. The Eco-Warriors have just taken one of many steps to defeat our school's ecological footprint!"