Concerns with today’s economy, as well as ever increasing costs in many areas, have people closely evaluating their spending habits at businesses and in homes throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Schools are being especially hard hit and are scrambling for ways to cut back, yet preserve important programs, academic and other, in their communities.
Here in the Chambersburg Area School District (CASD), one program in particular was initiated in the summer of 2007 that is now reaping the rewards of lowered utility costs, coming at a time when energy costs are soaring. The CASD was proactive when they partnered with Energy Education, Inc. to develop and implement a transformational process focused on behavior that is helping us save money and reduce energy use along with lowering our carbon footprint. Our energy conservation program has helped us to become better stewards of the resources we use in the district, better stewards of the environment, and better examples to our students. We’ve created a culture of energy conservation. By transforming how we use energy, we’ve freed up over $2,451,266.00 or 27.01% savings in 55 months and reduced our carbon footprint by 14,964 metric tons of CO2. That is equivalent to removing 2,686 cars from the roadways for one year or planting 382,738 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
An energy manager, a former CASD teacher, was hired for the school district and trained by Energy Education, Inc. Some of the duties of the Energy Manager include: regular building audits, maintaining a CASD database of utility usage and costs using Energy CAP software, communication with the entire school district organization about our conservation progress and to encourage participation by all, orchestrate holiday and summer shutdowns of facilities, daily work with maintenance department on building concerns from energy audits, student education via contests and classroom visits, and maintain an energy conservation web page and twitter account. Programs that reward for load shedding/demand response and offer reduced energy costs via pooling, Act 129 rebate opportunities, etc., have also been pursued, as well as hedging our gas purchases.
Our energy conservation program is helping to educate faculty, staff, and students. Via our CASD web site, the greater community is also offered educational information about energy initiatives for home and work. Also, any CASD resident may make use of Green Quest…a free software program on our district home page, offered for home or small business owners to help them track their own energy consumption in hopes of better controlling and understanding energy use.
CASD has been recognized has been recognized for many achievements related to energy management and education. Our newest validation of our energy efficiency efforts has come in the form of receiving the Energy Star Label for 15 of our facilities for 2009, 16 buildings for 2010, and 17 for 2011…49 Labels in all! We also have attained Energy Star Leader/Top Performer/20%+ Improvement recognition for 2010 and 2011. We are one of 181 Leader Districts in the country and one of 11 in Pennsylvania and reapplied for Leader recognition in May of 2012. We are currently less than 1% away from a 30% energy improvement in our Energy Star District Portfolio.
Finally, our conservation efforts have helped us earn 3 achievements in March of 2012. We were 1 of 17 organizations to earn the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award out of over 80 applicants; one of our elementary schools was 1 of 4 schools out of over 45 applicants chosen state-wide for the Green Ribbon School Award and moved on to the National Level; and our Energy Conservation and Management Program earned the Shippensburg School Study Council’s Exemplary Program Award for an initiative that has been in place for at least 3 years with successful results.
Each day the CASD continues to “Grow Greener”. Our efforts to lower energy consumption and control costs may help preserve student programs, save teaching positions, and help the environment in the process. Our proactive approach to reducing energy consumption has strengthened our district’s knowledge of energy conservation, enabled individuals to carry over and apply similar concepts to their own energy use at home, and helped our rural community with the ever present challenge of funding in our school district by helping to save on our utility costs.