Flint area schools cutting costs through energy efficiency

FLINT TWP. — Carman-Ainsworth Schools is among several local districts that have saved more than $10 million collectively by participating in an energy savings program administered by Energy Education, a national energy conservation management company.

In a news release last week, Energy Education reported that C-A has saved about $1.3 million in its 44 months with the program, a 28 percent cost reduction that surpasses a 20 percent targeted rate.

“We have changed our behaviors regarding saving energy,” said Russ Parks, assistant superintendent. “Most of the behavior is turning off lights, but we have also purchased equipment (lighting retro fit) to save energy. All of our buildings are saving larger percentages.”

Typical new behaviors include closing hallway doors and blinds, turning off lights when leaving a room even for short time, limiting use of appliances and unplugging them during weekends and breaks and turning off computers and accessories at the power strip.

Other districts included in the $10.3 million area-wide savings total are Flushing Community Schools, Birch Run Area Schools, Kearsley Community Schools, Grand Blanc Community Schools, Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools, Goodrich Area Schools and the Genesee Intermediate School District.

Davison Community Schools and Baker College-Flint are new to the program and have not yet accumulated savings data.

Flushing has been with the program the longest, 57 months, and also realized the greatest savings of 38 percent, nearly $1.8 million, in that time period.

The Genesee ISD posted $1.7 million in savings, a 22 percent reduction in energy costs over 35 months.

A trained Energy Education Specialist (EES) in each district leads the staff in examining energy use and eliminating energy waste, according to the report.

For C-A, Dave Klinck is the EES who regularly visits buildings and reviews energy data to determine ways to reduce energy usage. He uses a computer to gather, analyze and keep track of current and long-term data that helps pinpoint problem areas, stay on budget, provide detailed records of energy usage and more.

Energy usage is regularly examined in all areas of the school including food service, athletic facilities, classrooms, offices and heating and cooling systems.

The energy saving program is implemented at no additional cost to a district’s utility budget. Energy Education’s extends a guarantee that energy savings will cover program costs or it will refund the difference. On average, clients reduce energy consumption from 20 to 60 percent.

Some of what participating districts are saving in energy costs is freed up to be redirected to other educational needs including programs and jobs, the report said.

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