A dedicated focus to reducing energy consumption is paying off for one of the largest school districts in the state, the Olentangy Local School District board of education learned Thursday.
Jeff Gordon, director of business facilities for the Olentangy Local School District, provided the board with an update about the district’s energy savings program, which began four years ago.
He said since implementing the initial energy initiative, the district has been focused on cutting back its electric and gas usage, mainly its kilowatt-hours (kWh).
The good news, Gordon added, is the initiative has paid off to the tune of gas and electric savings totaling $1,713,359 over the past four years when compared to 2013 usage.
“For fiscal year 2017 as compared to our base year of 2013, had we continued operating in the manner we were going, we would have spent $626,811 more than we spent this year.” Gordon said.
While natural gas savings over the four-year period equate to $358,632, the majority of the savings have come on the electricity side — a total of $1,354,727.
“As our energy usage has gone down … our ENERGY STAR scores have increased,” Gordon said. “That’s another good, positive sign for the district and shows we are moving in the right direction.”
The district’s ENERGY STAR score (1 to 100), which assesses how its buildings district-wide are performing as a whole compared to other school facilities nationwide, increased from 79.2 in fiscal year 2013 to 94.5 in fiscal year 2016.
Onto the next phase
After reviewing the results from the district’s four-year energy initiative, Gordon presented the board with OLSD’s current plan — the House Bill 264 Energy Conservation Project — which he called “a natural progression.”
Under the state-sponsored program, school districts can make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings and use the cost savings to pay for those improvements. It enables school districts to borrow funds without having to pass a ballot issue for the authority to borrow.
Approved by the BOE in January at a total cost of $7.2 million, the project focuses on a number of energy conservation measures: interior and exterior retrofit lighting, HVAC controls with CO2 sensors (installed in three buildings to date with three other buildings to be outfitted in the coming months), air handler unit replacements in Shanahan Middle School, energy awareness training, and boiler and chiller replacements.
While the district continues to implement the measures, it’s already seeing the benefits of the changes made since the beginning of the year.
Gordon said the estimated savings in electricity alone between July 1 and Oct. 15 of this year when compared to 2016 is $110,540.
He added with the focus on decreasing kilowatt-hours usage, the quickest payback since implementing the HB 264 project has involved switching to LED light bulbs.
As for energy savings per building, Gordon highlighted the three buildings where the HVAC controls have been installed: Liberty High School, Berkshire Middle School, and Glen Oak Elementary.
During a recent four-day assessment period (Oct. 9-12) that compared this year to the same time last year, Liberty saved 14,056 kWh, Berkshire saved 7,601 kWh, and Glen Oak saved 4,155 kWh.
“We can see that to date (the HB 264 project) is working,” Gordon said.
All the energy conservation measures that have been implemented to date, he added, have been done so with students’ well being in mind.
“We want to look at how we do things, but we do not want to impact the students’ day,” Gordon said. “That’s been our goal from the beginning.”
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.