Coal Ridge saves $44,113 on energy in year-long competition
SILT, Colorado – Students, faculty and staff at Coal Ridge High School cut the school’s energy use by 24 percent and saved $44,113 on energy bills over the past year.
The aggressive energy savings came as Coal Ridge competed against 244 other buildings nationwide in the Battle of the Buildings energy contest.
When the winners were announced on Wednesday, Coal Ridge came out in 20th place, finishing in the top 10 percent.
Moreover, the school’s efforts were mentioned four times in a 12-page summary report on the contest, which was hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“EPA’s Energy Star competition helped us save energy, cut our utility bills, and protect the climate,” said Coal Ridge High School teacher and energy club sponsor Diana Buirgy. “We are excited by the enthusiasm and commitment of our students at Coal Ridge, and look forward to seeing more savings in the future from our efforts.”
The school’s strong showing in the national competition is part of an effort throughout the Garfield Re-2 School District to save energy.
In September, Re-2 Facilities Director Craig Jay reported that the district’s 10 schools together saved $335,000 in energy costs over the previous 12 months, cutting electricity use by 21 percent and natural gas use by 18 percent.
“All 10 schools in the district now have an Energy Star rating, becoming only the second district in Colorado to have achieved this prestigious distinction,” said district spokeswoman Theresa Hamilton in a written statement.
The energy savings are especially valuable in this time of education funding cuts, she said.
“Thanks to the highly-effective partnership with the EPA and Energy Star, Garfield Re-2 is showing all school districts a smarter way to reduce a large operating expense, keeping more resources in the classroom,” Hamilton said.
Coal Ridge reduced its energy use through a variety of strategies, she said.
For example, students boosted awareness of classroom energy consumption. They encouraged teachers to reduce the amount of lighting in classrooms, and made sure teachers and staff turned off computers and fans at the end of the school day.
The district upgraded lighting fixtures and bulbs to high-efficiency models. It also installed interval data reporting (IDR) meters at buildings to measure electrical energy use every 15 minutes.
Once the IDR meter was installed at Coal Ridge, the whole school conducted a one-hour experiment on May 19 to see how many non-essential electrical devices could be turned off. In that hour, the school’s electrical energy consumption plummeted by nearly 80 percent, Hamilton said.
That established a baseline goal for the school to hit during nighttime hours and on weekends and holidays.
Coal Ridge students also took their campaign to the streets, visiting local businesses and government buildings in Silt and New Castle and asking them to participate.
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