Re-2 energy savings help bottom line, environment
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A few months ago, Kathryn Senor Elementary student Sydney Stanley didn’t know the difference between kinetic and potential energy. By being involved in KSE’s Energy Stars club, Sydney and a handful of her classmates have opened their eyes to what energy is, and how they can help their school conserve it.
Stanley says that the energy club is both fun and rewarding.
“We get to have fun and learn at the same time,” she explained. “And we can help our school save money by thinking of energy-saving ideas.”
Kathryn Senor Elementary is one of four pilot schools in the Garfield School District Re-2 that are working with New Energy Technology, or NET, to reduce their energy consumption. Rifle High School, Wamsley Elementary and Coal Ridge High School are also participating. NET helps public and private institutions not only to find physical and mechanical areas for energy savings but also to create a culture of energy consciousness. The partnership with NET was made possible through a Garfield New Energy Communities grant that was awarded in April 2010.
In the past several months, there has been an increased awareness of energy consumption around the district by all staff. In addition to the development of energy clubs at several schools, interval data meters were installed at the pilot schools. There is a plan to expand the use of interval data to other schools around the district. This data allows staff members to see exactly how much energy the building uses on a daily basis – information that can’t be garnered by looking at month-old energy bills.
“I can see the energy use daily,” said KSE day custodian Susan Brown. “I had no idea how we were using energy.”
Brown has made changes to her daily routine like consciously keeping lights off until the last minute.
“I can open doors and begin the day by using the security lighting,” she explained. “We’re saving money. It’s amazing how much money we can save by changing a few things.”
Garfield Re-2 also began an energy incentive program this year to give back some of the energy savings to the buildings if they reach specific levels of energy reduction and has created a districtwide green team to help guide the district’s efforts. So far, the two initiatives combined have helped Garfield Re-2 save 767,525 KwH or an overall reduction of 19 percent districtwide and an overall reduction of 56,046 Therms of natural gas or 29 percent districtwide. Energy prices continue to fluctuate, but the reduction in consumption means that overall, Garfield Re-2 has saved or cost avoided about $200,000 in energy costs during the first two quarters.
“Budget cuts are forcing us to look at everything, including energy use in all of our buildings,” said Director of Facilities Craig Jay. “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. Our initial results show that it saves the district money as well.”
This week, Garfield Re-2 residents may receive a phone call asking them to take a survey about the district. This survey was approved by the school board, and asks questions about the district, and about the variety of budget options that Garfield Re-2 faces as part of the budget process and pending budget cuts. If you receive a call, please take the time to share your views about the district, and the options the board is considering.
You may also provide feedback using the online budget feedback form at http://www.garfieldre2.org. There is also a calendar feedback form available to provide feedback on the 2011-12 and 2012-13 calendar options.
Finally, Garfield Re-2 is conducting a series of focus group meetings through March 29. If you would like to participate in a meeting to share your views about the larger budget cut, please contact Theresa Hamilton at 665-7621.
The school board is meeting every Tuesday (with the exception of March 29) through April 12 as it considers the variety of cost-cutting options to resolve the $3 million to $4 million budget shortfall for next year.
Theresa Hamilton is Re-2 director of districtwide services.
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