Rushville Republican

February 24, 2013

Continuing to flip the switch with energy education

Marianne Scott
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Last summer, Rush County School embarked on a new course of action for current and future energy consumption. A comprehensive facility audit of all Rush County Schools documented facility needs, occupancy patterns, system configurations, behavior-driven energy use, work environment, malfunctioning equipment and potential savings opportunities. It was projected that Rush County Schools could realize savings of 10 to 15 percent in the early months of implementation. When this savings is projected into the next 10 years, a net of savings of $2,400,000 is certainly possible.  

A road map was put into place designed to touch on all facets of energy saving. Under the guidance of Tom Simpson ((Energy Education Specialist), Rush County Schools IS beginning to see the results of flipping off a switch.  When you ask Tom how we’re doing, he smiles and replies, “Very, very well! This whole program is about changing the way we think and go about our daily activities. Consistent attention to detail can go a long way toward energy savings. Teachers and administrators have been great about making sure lights, computers, monitors, etc. are turned off at the end of the day. However, we can do better and hopefully 100 percent participation is just around the corner.”

At the end of the day, the goals set forth will save dollars that can be directed to curriculum and instruction, maintain and improve comfort and safety, eliminate energy waste, and achieve & maintain an energy conservation culture in every building.

Energy savings can be found just about anywhere in our school buildings. For instance, vending machines now have timers and shut down when not in use (at night/weekends). This in itself saves 56 hours of electricity per week (per vending machine). When you consider we have approximately 10 vending machines corporation-wide, we are saving 560 hours of electricity per week. And now, computers automatically shut off after 5 p.m. (this has been huge).   “We are finding other ways to save energy that some might not have considered. For instance all our buildings (except Mays) have multiple exhaust fans on their roofs. Some have been turned off for the winter, some not! Locating the switches and being intentional about their use will mean even greater savings,” stated Simpson.

So the Report Card on Energy Savings for Rush County Schools is very good. Simpson cited, “We are keeping score of our progress through tracking consumption data as they relate to variances such as weather, facility upgrades, and behavioral changes. Four of our buildings are leading the way in their efforts to be energy efficient. For the months of May through November 2012 we have realized a savings of 12.9 percent or $47,308.”  

We are not only saving dollars but are also realizing some substantial environmental benefits. Since implementation we have saved over 390,140 kilowatt hours of electricity and 10,957 Therms of natural gas. These savings would compare to preventing the emission of 327 metric tons of CO2, removing 59 automobiles for an entire year or the restoration of 8,371 tree seedlings planted and grown for 10 years.

These efforts also mean that the Rush County School district can apply to be officially recognized an Energy Star Partner. This is a significant milestone and reaffirms the thought that we can all be energy efficient: one person, one building, and one community at a time.