District recognized for its energetic efforts
Five-year-old energy savings program puts local schools on EPA list
Oak Creek — The Oak Creek-Franklin School District is one of two districts in the state to be recognized this year as an Energy Star Leaders Top Performer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In a recent report to the School Board, Energy Education Coordinator Bob Moore explained the award and the milestones the district has achieved since it began its energy management and savings program in 2005.
The district qualified for the award by receiving an overall energy portfolio rating of 85. The rating is based on the adjusted percent energy reduction, taking into account electricity, gas and water usage, for each of the district's 10 buildings. As of October, seven of those 10 buildings had an individual rating of 85 or higher.
Saving energy and money
During the past year alone, the district has reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2,300 metric tons, Moore said. And since 2005, more than $2.4 million in energy costs have been avoided as a result of the program.
"If we would have done nothing, that would have been money you would have had to find in the budget," Moore told the board.
Moore applauded district staff for adjustments they have made to help make those energy savings possible - including light management and evening, weekend, holiday and summer shutdowns, he said.
"I am nothing without them," Moore said. "The administrators, principals, teachers and custodians are the backbone of the program."
Other steps the district has taken to reduce energy usage include installing lighting and window improvements, replacing water equipment, instituting four-day work weeks in the summer, and opening two new energy-efficient buildings, Moore explained.
Those two buildings - East Middle School and Deerfield Elementary School - received Energy Star ratings of 97 this year, and Shepard Hills Elementary received a rating of 99.
Work to be done
Board member Sheryl Cerniglia questioned whether there were plans to improve the energy efficiency of the two lowest-rated buildings - West Middle School, rated at 65, and Edgewood Elementary, rated at 73.
Much of Edgewood's energy inefficiencies can be attributed to equipment and windows, Moore said. Superintendent Sara Burmeister said their windows are scheduled to be replaced next summer.
As for West Middle School, the building currently has outdated lighting, which likely will need to be replaced by 2012, and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system that lacks automatic controls.
A better idea of the funds available for energy improvements will be determined once the district discusses other major capital needs in March, Burmeister said.
The district also will need to plan for increased energy costs next year. Beginning in January, We Energies customers will no longer receive the Point Beach credit for electricity, Moore said, which likely will cause the district's electric bills to increase by about 12 percent. Sewer increases also are anticipated, while natural gas costs are expected to remain consistent, he added.
The district's energy budget varies from year to year, and improvements selected are dependent upon factors such as anticipated return on investment, as well as how they align with other priorities, such as student safety and learning, Moore said.
BY THE NUMBERS
school districts nationwide that qualified as 2010 Energy Star Leaders Top Performers
additional Wisconsin districts - the School District of Amery - that qualified as Top Performers this year
school districts in Wisconsin recognized as 2010 Energy Star Leaders for 10 and 20 percent reductions in energy usage
For more information on the Energy Star Leaders program, visit www.energystar.gov/leaders.
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