Girls Have ENERGY

March 01, 2019

Girls For A Change (GFAC) is a nonprofit that empowers black girls in metro RVA to visualize their bright futures and potential. Our Chesterfield center offers after-school and summer programs for first through eighth graders. Staff, volunteers and community partners offer social and emotional support, empowering our girls to excel academically, gain leadership skills, and attain economic training and development. GFAC strongly focuses on science, tech, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs because black women are significantly underrepresented in these careers. In 2016, just 94 black women in the nation earned degrees in the Environmental Sciences- despite sustainability exposure through Standards of Learning curriculum. Lack of role models can slow exploration into less familiar topics, in turn making the topic more un-relatable. A compromised environment is no longer a distant potential threat- it is Reality for this generation. Young creative minds are critical to innovation. We wanted an environmental and social sustainability initiative to help our girls relate environmental health directly to their community, to consider environmental science careers and to create solution-oriented actions for environmental health.

Energy was our basic starting point. Energy is easily relatable (flip the switch- lights on. The acquisition and exploitation of energy is a significant contributor to climate change. Understanding evolving energy technologies also aligns with GFACs STEAM initiative. And, of course, our team includes an energy specialist, Mitch Mitchell. Mitch kicked our project off guiding the girls in an energy assessment of our Chesterfield building. Using a prompt list, the girls noted problems such as cracks in doors and poor lighting. Mitch explained the impact of energy loss on the environment inside and outside the center. The girls understood that greater and more efficient conservation of energy equates to funds saved on electric bills yielding more funds for GFAC activities and programs. Energy savings solutions were determined. The students documented their assessment findings with pictures and notes. Past Dominion Energy bills were examined. Working with Mitch, the team generated a list of needed items to install or amend to conserve energy in the building.

Our next step was fundraising for the equipment and in-kind service installation. We reached out to our community asking for donations. Installations happened on a few different days. For perpetuity, we plan another energy assessments to monitor for efficacy of our solutions. We completed our goals for this year, and plan to continue to examine the performance of our new solutions. Our project goals were:

1. ASSESS the energy consumption in the Chesterfield Center building
2. DETERMINE any energy inefficiencies
3. DEVELOP a plan of energy conservation solutions
4. IMPLEMENT physical solutions to conserve energy
5. MONITOR positive changes in our energy consumption
6. DEVELOP a narrative to record the changes
7. MEET with professionals in sustainably related fields to gain exposure to the
education and career potentials in the Environmental Science
8. CONTINUE to monitor implemented solutions for efficacy

Programmable Thermostats (2 ) $ 170 ea + $170 ea labor = $ 340 / $340
LED Upgrades (20 fixtures) $ 70 ea + $ 45 ea labor = $1,400 / $900
Insulate Doors (4) $ 75 ea + $ 50 ea labor = $ 300 / $200
Install motion light sensors (6) $ 50 ea + $ 50 ea labor = $ 300 / $300
Solar Film , east side of building $ 1,200
BR30 LED outdoor flood lights $ 6 ea at Home Depot
Check Insulation drop ceiling/ add PRN

1- increase student awareness of energy conservation
2- understand the importance of environmental stewardship and practice of
everyday habits to energy (such as turning the lights off, no running water
while brushing teeth, etc)
3- learn to assess building systems and/ or construction methods in the built
environment that commonly compromise energy conservation
4- increase awareness of new technologies to conserve energy
5- conserve center resources with the money savings from greater energy


Students attended


Staff attended


Additional Volunteers attended


Students will be impacted this year

Intended impact of project

Reduced environmental impact

Impact of project

Energy and/or water conservation

More impact of project

1. Observable habits the students adopted from conversations about sustainability and conservation: recycle, composting , conserving water
2. About a $25 savings since final installation of thermostats (one month)
3. Dominion VA power bills were 5 % lower last month
4. Building is more comfortable from weatherizing the doors and adding whiter + brighter light

Equipment we replaced or newly installed to conserve energy:
1. weatherization strips for doors
2. 2 thermostats: NEST E White thermostat
3. All lights fixtures were changed(additional need to rewire) - OLED Lights
An energy audit was performed at project onset. Opportunities for improved conservation existed in lighting, HVAC and building envelope.
The existing fixtures consist of 4 feet 4 lamp T8 florescent lamps with a wattage of 32 watts each for a total of 128 watts per fixture. The energy retrofit recommends an upgrade to two 4 feet LEDs totaling 36 watts, yielding a 72% reduction in energy use per fixture.

The existing thermostats were not programmable and were set at a constant temperature of 72 degrees. The recommendation was to replace the two thermostats with eco-friendly, programmable devices that allow remote temperature changes set to maximize energy efficiency by reducing or increasing temperatures during unoccupied times.
Building envelope:
The existing building is oriented in an east/ west position which provides direct sunlight in the facility during the peak hours of daily operation. This is beneficial in the winter months, but increases cooling costs in the summer months.
The recommendation is to reduce the light infiltration rate by adding a solar film or shade to control the direct sunlight to reduce heating and cooling costs. New weather stripping on all existing exterior doors reduced air infiltration, to improve heating and cooling efficiency.
These collective improvements will reduce the carbon footprint and lower energy costs by 10- 15 % monthly. These improvements will be monitored by comparing electrical bills from previous years and recording the changes over the next 12 months.
FUTURE PLANS: future monitoring/ additional energy assessment after a few months to check for efficacy + money savings of new equipment GFAC used multiple social media, non-profit giving and online retail platforms for outreach in our community to raise funds specific to this project. We also sought in-kind service donations from trade specialists such as an electrician. This enabled us to install and implement the technical energy solutions purchased from raised funds. GFAC used multiple social media, non-profit giving and online retail platforms for outreach in our community to raise funds specific to this project. We also sought in-kind service donations from trade specialists such as an electrician. This enabled us to install and implement the technical energy solutions purchased from raised funds. We installed custom window shades with graphic brand messaging and decor. Window shade graphics offer a practical and innovative way to extend our marketing message, as well as complement the branded interior d?cor. Printed shades keep our participants protected from direct heat and sunlight, create a unique visual experience, and make an ongoing impression while conserving energy. Our custom window shades will be created in a multitude of colors, materials, and patterns with GFAC Brand to effectively block sunlight and UV rays.