District Sustainability Committee Focuses on Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

One of the most recent cost saving initiatives is the formation of District sustainability committee. The committee was formed in 2014 and stemmed from the collaboration efforts of JadeTrack, a real-time monitoring and sustainability management software program, and the District.

“The idea to create a committee came together because we saw that the District had a big opportunity to become more involved in energy efficiency and cost savings,” says Ryan Prestel, founder and CEO of JadeTrack.

Every school within our District has its own sustainability group. Each school conducts projects and discusses ways to make our schools and buildings more energy efficient, which ultimately results in cost savings for the District.

The sustainability committee consists of one representative from each building, Board of Education members, District administrators and PTO representatives. These members come together throughout the school year and present updates and information on energy efficiency and cost savings throughout the District.

Over the summer, bigger projects such as LED lighting in buildings, recycling, and water bottle re-filler stations were the focus of the committee.

“We have a lot of organic engagement at these meetings, which allows for great ideas to be generated and created,” says Nathan Rohyans, Coordinator of Operational Excellence who represents the District at the sustainability committee meetings.

Students are also involved in these efforts too. Classroom discussions take place on the importance and effects of energy efficiency as well as recycling and composting. A 5th grader suggested that biodegradable lunch trays would be more efficient in the cafeteria while a 3rd grader created a presentation entitled “What is Energy” to share with other students. Energy efficiency is a topic that appeals to our students, our District and members of our community.

The District also obtains Energy Star ratings for each building. These scores are on a scale from 1-100 and act as a benchmarking tool to help measure progress. The scores are based off of how well each building is doing in terms of energy efficiency. How many computers there are in each building and how many people are in each building are just some of the determining factors that go into the overall score.

“We see the Energy Star ratings much like test scores, with each building needing to have a passing score of 75 or higher,” says Prestel. “Some buildings are doing exceptional well, such as Thomas Elementary, which has a score of 96.”

Though the District has saved a substantial amount already, it still has many opportunities to save more.

“The District could still be reducing about $100,000 annually and there are plenty of ways it can accomplish this,” says Prestel.

One suggestion is to create a “better building challenge”, much like the one conducted by the US Department of Energy. This contest would be a friendly competition between buildings to see who can save the most energy. This competition would help get more people involved in the District’s energy efficiency efforts, as well as create more cost savings

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