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Herndon High School Turns Down the Power

Herndon High becomes first school in county to try energy and money saving program.

Looking to cut its electric bills and save some energy, Herndon High School became the first public high school in the county to participate in a pilot program to reduce the amount of electricity used by its more than 800 computer monitors, Fairfax County Public School's announced last week.

The project, part of the county's, "Energy Savings for Kids" program, will eventually save the school an estimated $25 per monitor per year, or a total of around $20,000. Three elementary schools and a middle school will join Herndon High in the initial phase of the project, county officials said. By spring 2003, the county expects to replicate the program at each of its schools and its more than 66,000 computers. Once in place, the project could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings countywide, FCPS officials said.

"The school system is aware that its sources of revenue will continue to decline, and we are doing everything possible to cut costs," said Schools Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech, in a statement. "This is a painless, simple way to save money, and we hope to spread the program to other schools and centers as soon as possible."

Herndon's computers have been modified with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's 'Energy Star' mechanism, found in many home and office personal computers, that helps to reduce the energy emitted from monitor use. "We monitored every computer here and we found that some don't go into sleep mode for hours, and some never did," said Jim Watts, the Herndon High technology coordinator. "Monitors use 74 watts of power but when they are in sleep mode, they use only 1 watt."

Watts said he, and his cadre of energy-conscious student volunteers, will frequently monitor software and individual computer settings throughout the school. "We are going to be very aggressive with this program," Watts said. "Any school computer that has not been used in 10 minutes will be programmed to go into its 'sleep state.'"

Watts credited Herndon principal Jan Leslie with the school's environmentally friendly reputation. "We have a leader in Mrs. Leslie that encourages innovation and creates a risk-free environment," Watts said. "When I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was a no-brainer."