School districts and other public agencies are realizing significant savings in energy costs from simple changes and upgrades. Making minor tweaks to energy efficiency can accumulate in the long-term for increased sustainability.
Kingsport City Schools in Tennessee launched a new energy program designed to save money through simple adjustments in user behavior. The school system’s new utilities policy calls for teachers, students, administrators, maintenance and other staff to flip a variety of switches throughout the schools to reduce energy consumption when appliances and lights are not in use. Specifically, everyone is encouraged to:
- Turn off classroom lights
- Unplug unused computers and appliances
- Clear out and turn off refrigerators
- Unplug vending machines
The unplugging strategy generates the most savings when implemented during prolonged breaks such as during the summer and winter holidays. The schools will also install sensors in rooms that automatically turn off the lights when there is no activity detected. Over the next 10 years, Kingsport City Schools expects to save more than $3.5 million in energy costs, Times News reported.
Similarly, a school system in Washington is taking advantage of energy incentive programs offered by local utilities providers. Clark Public Utilities in Clark County are helping local schools lower their energy bills by partnering with them in conservation initiatives. The utilities companies are teaching students about smart energy consumption and the many ways they can cut down on waste, The Columbian reported.
Furthermore, Clark Public Utilities awarded one school district with $361,000 in incentives to deploy a variety of energy projects over a two-year period such as:
- Lighting upgrades
- Temperature controls
- Solar panels
The school district has reported saving nearly 3 million kilowatt-hours – or $150,000 – in each of the past two years thanks to the conservation initiatives. The money saved can be reinvested into school resources such as books and computers, The Columbian reported.
The Vancouver School District has proactively started to audit all facilities to identify areas of wasted energy or water. The district was so efficient in pinpoint the problems and implementing solutions, it won a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award. The U.S. DOE offers this recognition to school districts that have improved conservation excellence in three areas:
- Improving the health and wellness of students and staff
- Providing valuable sustainability education
- Reducing the environmental impact and cost
To succeed in achieving such conservation success, the school district had to educate staff, students and families on the value of the initiatives to ensure buy-in from all parties involved.
Municipal buildings throughout the city of Conneaut, Ohio, were recently audited to determine where energy inefficiencies lied in the infrastructure. After the evaluations were complete in 2012, the city implemented a variety of simple, energy-related improvements to all public buildings. Between June 2013 and June 2014, the city reported a total savings of $49,000 from the building improvements alone, added to the $23,800 that was saved prior to June 2013, the Star Beacon reported.
The city used $800,000 to upgrade lights and insulation in:
- City hall
- Wastewater and water treatment plants
- Public works department office
- Water distribution office
- Fire station
The city predicts generating more than $800,000 in savings within a 15-year period, easily paying off the initial costs.