Re-2 continues Go Green quest
For many years, the Garfield School District Re-2 has tried to find ways to become more energy and environmentally conscious. Several years ago, the district participated in an energy audit, and two years ago it began a districtwide recycling program, which several schools grew and developed further within their buildings.
The district participated in an Energy Design Assistance Program through Xcel Energy, which has helped the district identify and implement digital temperature controls within its facilities, motion activated lights in classrooms, energy efficient boilers, and energy efficient windows.
These are just a few of the things that Re-2 has done over the last six to eight years to improve building energy efficiency and to “go green.”
For the 2010-2011 school year, the district is focusing more on energy efficiency. In March, the school board approved a contract with Grand Junction based New Energy Technology (NET), which helps public and private institutions not only find physical and mechanical areas for energy savings but also help create a culture of energy consciousness.
NET has worked with companies like JC Penny, the first retailer to win the Energy Star Partner of the Year, Alpine Bank in Carbondale, and many school districts including the Roaring Fork School District.
The partnership with NET was made possible through a Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative grant that was awarded in April.
The district will have four pilot schools – including Kathryn Senor Elementary, Coal Ridge High School, Wamsley Elementary and Rifle High School – working with NET in an attempt to further improve building energy efficiency.
District director of facilities Craig Jay said that this new effort to reduce energy consumption is related to several factors, but recent budget cuts have had a significant impact.
“Budget cuts are forcing us to look at everything, including energy use in all of our buildings,” Jay said. “However, we also want to be better custodians of our buildings and the environment. We are committed to trying to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our energy use, and change the district culture regarding how people think about and use energy.
“We are hopeful that these changes will help save the district money as well,” Jay said.
In working with the four schools, NET estimates that it can reduce energy consumption at each location by between 10 and 20 percent.
Bryan Wiman, NET project manager working with the Re-2 school district, said he is impressed with the measures that the district has already taken.
“Garfield Re-2 is in a good place already,” Wiman said. “They have already taken many steps to become energy efficient, but there are many areas that aren’t as obvious where we believe we can help Garfield Re-2 become a shining star with regards to energy efficient school districts.”
Over the summer, Wiman will work with custodian and maintenance crews on summer shutdown procedures. Wiman recently completed room-by-room walk-throughs and found several areas where the school district could save energy including unplugging of projectors, ensuring all computers are shut down, and evaluating essential and emergency lighting.
As part of the program, school district staff will be able to monitor electricity usage at 15-minute intervals, allowing custodial, maintenance and building administration the ability to see exactly when energy spikes occur.
“Overall, Garfield Re-2 has done a great job,” Wiman added. “We were just trying to find those last measures that will make a difference in over all energy use.”
In the fall, Wiman will work with principals and staff at the four locations to further improve the energy use in the buildings.
A website will be available for the public to view information and follow the schools’ progress online. Parents, students, teachers and community members will be able to view the information at Garfieldre2.org.
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