As the new energy manager for Boyd County, Greenup County and Ashland Independent School Districts, I have been looking for ways to reduce wasted energy while returning much needed funds back to the classroom. Utility costs come from the same general fund that buys books and curricular materials,and pays teachers’ salaries.
My position is part of a bigger, statewide initiative known as the School Energy Managers Project (SEMP). There are 130 school districts participating in the initiative, employing 34 energy managers, which is administered through the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA). Support is provided by the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) and other partner organizations.
The Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) obtained grant funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to partially fund energy managers for the school districts. Collaborations were then setup to reduce the remaining costs to individual school districts.
Pursuant to KRS160.325 boards of education are required to report data on energy usage, costs and savings measures to the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) who administers the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) program. Since starting in my current position, I have been gathering the needed information to report past energy usage and costs in addition to tracking current data.
With the collected information I have been analyzing the utility bills for the school districts to insure that they are paying the correct utility rates as well as investigating possible billing errors. Compiling the utility data has also allowed me to create a baseline for each school district which helps to track the progress each district and school is making in achieving their energy savings goals.
Some schools could benefit from newer energy-saving retrofits such as lighting, heating and cooling systems, but these upgrades are expensive. In the meantime, behavior changes will lead to significant savings to help offset the price of any renovations. Simply turning off lights in empty classrooms and powering down computers and monitors will help save money. I look forward to assisting the boards of education develop an energy policy, as well as establishing district energy committees, so that we may foster wise and efficient use of energy resources. All stakeholders will have to be involved if we are to succeed. With the help of teachers, staff and students contributing to efficiency awareness, our schools and community can reap the rewards.