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Presentation College Bray, Energy Bandits

The Energy Bandits initiative was conceived of through a cross curricular engagement between the Green School Committee and the art department. The green schools theme for the year was Energy. Our art teacher brought together a first year student with a flair for creating cartoons, and two fifth year students with a passion for design. Together we used digital media to create the Energy Bandits. The idea was to personify energy wastage using site-specific cartoons that related to energy wastage in our school.

The process began through research around the areas of potential energy waste in a school environment and implementing this into our design process. We finished with a suite of ten unique ‘Energy Bandits’. While our initial work was done with pencil and paper, we evolved the designs using digital media. Using professional design software, we orchestrated the colour scheme, allocated names and a set of discrete ‘crimes’ to each character appropriate to the energy waste associated. The work was influenced by Wild West style ‘Wanted’ posters. For example: ‘Tree Munching Jim’ is guilty of committing a variety of grievous crimes like ink abuse and paper pilfering.

We developed a 3-tier information dissemination strategy; stickers, posters and e-fliers. Taking each of the ten characters and associated colour schemes, the suite aimed to build information awareness at various sites of consumer engagement. The stickers were used to Sticker Bomb the school at the actual sites of potential energy waste (500 stickers). The posters expanded on the stickers and were presented in public areas within the school. The e-fliers expanded on the posters and were sent to all families through the school app and used as teaching aids over a series of 10 days within the school.

Initial results
The project’s qualitative success was most evident in how it captured the imaginations of our peers and became part of the vernacular of the student population; students even began collecting the stickers!

The project’s quantitative success was evident in the achievement of a 9% reduction in our energy costs. This amounted to a total of 26,000 KWH in the academic years of 2015/16 to 2016/17. We also saved a further €4000 on electricity bills in this period and we received a once - off refund for overcharging to the amount of €8,500 on an inactive meter.

Energy Bandit Frank the Tyrant Tap

Above: Energy Bandit Frank the Tyrant Tap

Taking it beyond the walls of our school
In an attempt to share our ideas, we wrote two blogs; Jack, one of our team members took it upon himself to advocate, and reinforce our message and its relationship to the global context. His blog “Climate Change and I” proved extremely successful and was the second most popular blog published on developmenteducation.ie. in 2017.

From Local to National...
We were afforded the opportunity to exhibit at the 2018 Green Schools expo and we wanted to promote energy conservation on a national scale. To this end, we developed a new character; The Energy Marshall. This character prompted people to associate with the positive attributes of a Sheriff and linked them to the conservation of energy. We used this character to ask attendees at the Expo to take our Energy Pledge. Using the Bohr model we developed a character associated with energy at its atomic level. The electrons whizzing around him representing his power to defend against the bandits.

We produced stickers of our Energy Marshall for the exhibition. We showcased and made freely available our full suite of posters flyers, and stickers (digitally) to include the energy marshall sticker. Schools and businesses delighted to sign up. 106 schools and organisations took our Energy Marshall pledge to gain access to the suite. We were even lucky enough to receive some notable pledges from the likes of Siobhan Ryan and Eibhlin Cusack of MET Eireann. Other notable supporters of our work on the day include Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten T.D. and Green Party’s Eamon Ryan T.D.

SDG’s and Minecraft
The idea was first conceived after the success of the Energy Bandits campaign; we wanted to expand the focus of our Green Schools Project from just one aspect e.g. litter, energy, to incorporate all aspects of a fully sustainable school. We felt the most effective way to do that was by channelling our creative process through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We decided to build a scale model of our school building and grounds in the virtual, 3D game Minecraft. We then researched and analysed the SDG’s and came up with a list of 104 changes that could be made to the school, to realise the SDG’s in a school environment. During Spirit of Pres week, around 30 students, from 1st to 5th year, modified the virtual school in line with the planned changes. These ranged from realistic, achievable ideas, such as a book and tablet rental scheme, to help students who may be struggling to fund their studies; to ambitious long term goals, such as a windfarm to create our own renewable source of energy.

From Local to National…
A short segment about the project was shown on RTE, we were national finalists in the eHealth Digital Natives Competition in Dublin Castle, our 4th year cohort presented in the EPA head offices in Dublin, the project is currently in the final of the Eco UNESCO Young Environmentalists Awards, the team has been invited to give talks at conferences in Sligo, to other Pres Schools in Cork, and in Dublin, and we were finalists in the UN SDG Action Awards. We were invited to Bonn in Germany for the award ceremony, but unfortunately could not attend. We placed top five in the world in the ‘Innovators’ category and received over 200 votes for the People’s Choice Award.

We would like to thank our teachers Mr. Hannon, our Green Schools Co-ordinator and Mr. Rooney, our Art Teacher and our Principal and Deputy Principal, Mr. Gregory and Mr. Locke. We would also like to thank Tony Daly in 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World, and all the teachers specifically involved with the Minecraft Project: Mr. McInerney, Mr. McEvoy, Ms. Kelly, Eugene Downes, Ms. McFaul..

Energy Bandit Tree Munching Jim

Above: Energy Bandit Tree Munching Jim

Case Study courtesy of Presentation College Bray