Turning off the lights and managing energy use has yielded $6.17 million savings for the public schools.
The savings occurred over the 10 years the schools participated in Energy Education Inc. (EEI)'s energy management program, as announced by energy education/ manager Edgar "Mac" Corwine at the April 22 School Board meeting, which coincided with Earth Day.
"It conserves both the resources we all want to preserve nationally and saves the school system money that can be used for other means," Corwine said.
In March 1993, the public schools awarded a four-year contract to EEI and continued using the practices after the contract ended. EEI developed an energy management program focused on modifying behaviors rather than changing a school's equipment to save on energy costs, such as turning off lights when rooms are not in use and shutting off drink machine water coolers during the summer months.
"They are not earth-shaking things," said Evan Mohler, assistant superintendent of support services. "When a whole system does them in concert, it builds up."
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS saved energy in several ways by using the EEI program, which Corwine implemented at the schools. The savings from 1993 to February 2003 include:
* More than 68 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
* More than 1.2 million therms of natural gas.
* More than 1.1 million gallons of fuel oil.
* A cut in the energy used per square foot of space from $1.04 in Fiscal Year (FY) 1993 to $.97 in FY-02, though the cost of fuel has increased over the years, new construction and renovation occurred, and air-conditioning was added to high school and new school gymnasiums. Since 1993, the public schools built three high schools, five middle schools and 16 elementary schools and added on to 12 existing schools, increasing the district's total space from 2.42 million square feet in FY-93 to 5.05 million square feet in FY-02.
"We are not attempting to save energy by freezing staff and students in the winter and overheating them in the summer. There are no negative impacts on the educational environment by using this program," Mohler said. "I'm a firm believer that EEI allows us to be wise stewards of public dollars and of the energy that's drawn from Mother Earth."
EEI allows program participants to continue using the energy saving measures, receive technical support and participate in company-hosted seminars after the contract ends and fees are paid. EEI's seminars provide information on the latest technology and newest equipment for energy conservation.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS also uses a prototypical school design for elementary and middle schools that can be reviewed and incorporate new energy saving technologies and products, according to information Ron Hetinger, vice-president of Moseley Architects, presented to the School Board. The measures are implemented at the outset of the design process to develop schools that are well lit and ventilated and that use energy-efficient methods and technologies.
"This system has always been attuned to energy conservation and the thoughts of that particular time," Mohler said. "We try to put state-of-the-art equipment in all of our facilities. As it changes, some of our equipment changes."