Carbondale school places in national energy savings contest |

Carbondale school places in national energy savings contest

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Energy efficiency efforts at Crystal River Elementary School over the past six months have saved the school $19,000 in energy costs, and also earned the school a seventh-place finish in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Building Competition.

“I want to congratulate you and say how proud we are,” Roaring Fork School District school board member Debbie Bruell said during an all-school assembly Tuesday to celebrate the school’s award. “To save $19,000 is a huge accomplishment.”

Barbara Conklin, an environmental scientist with the EPA Region VIII office in Denver, announced the school’s finish at the assembly.

She noted that the school improved its ENERGY STAR rating from a 37 in September 2009, up to a 54 on Aug. 31 this year, on a scale of 1-to-100.

“That’s a 17-point improvement, and a 12 percent savings in energy use,” Conklin said, adding the energy saved at the school is equal to the energy used by 11 homes in a year.

CRES was one of 14 buildings across the country chosen for the competition, which challenged teams from the 14 buildings to measure their energy use and cut waste with help from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. It was one of only two K-12 schools in the EPA competition, and finished well ahead of the other school, Van Holten Primary School of Bridgewater, N.J., which achieved a 5 percent energy savings.

The Carbondale effort teamed up students and faculty at the elementary school, along with members of the Carbondale Middle School Energy Club, school district maintenance staff, and energy efficiency consultants from New Energy Technology of Grand Junction.

“School energy savings are an important part of our county-wide clean energy program because there’s significant money to be saved,” said Alice Laird, executive director of Clean Energy Economy for the Region, which manages the initiative. “That’s especially important in these tough budget times for education.”

“You saved money, you saved carbon dioxide from going in the atmosphere, and you showed that kids can do anything they want if they put their minds to it,” added Michael Logan, the CMS math teacher and coach of the Energy Champions.

CRES Principal Karen Olson said the school will continue its efforts to save energy, even though the competition’s over.

Charley Haupt, president of the consulting firm NET, said the school is working with Xcel Energy and the Governor’s Energy Office on a “re-commissioning” of the building’s heating, ventilation and air condition equipment and related building controls.

The study has already found energy waste, and work is now under way to fix the problems, Haupt said. “We expect to see a lot greater savings over the coming year,” he said.

The winner of the EPA competition, Morrison Residence Hall at the University of North Carolina, cut its energy use by 35 percent. For a complete list of results, visit

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