Delaware City Schools Facilities Manager Jason Sherman delivered a presentation to the Delaware City Schools Board of Education Monday and said the district is taking steps to be more energy efficient.
Sherman said because the 2017-2018 school year was the first year where all the construction projects at the district had been completed, the district was finally able to get a baseline for their power usage throughout the year.
“We’ve added 200,000 square feet to the school district,” Sherman said. “You have to expect operating costs to go up. You are paying more water, electricity, gas, you have to hire more people to clean the building and to fix the buildings.”
Sherman reported that for the 2017-2018 school year, the district spent $819,267 on electricity, an increase over 2016-2017’s $704,016.
However, Sherman reported the district’s electric usage per square foot has stayed generally consistent for the past few years and said the district used 8.77 KWH’s per-square-foot in 2018, which is higher than 8.63 KWH’s per-square-foot in 2017 but lower than 2016’s 8.93 KWH’s per-square-foot.
Sherman said the district has been taking steps to keep energy costs down and make the buildings more efficient and said that in 2017 all of the florescent lights in the Hayes High School gym were replaced with more efficient LED lights. Sherman said the district replaced the lights in Hayes Auditorium this summer.
Sherman said the areas replaced with LED lights will generally save the district about $1500 in energy costs every year.
“That will save us labor costs too because it’s very expensive to use a lift to go up there and change light bulbs, especially in the auditorium where you have seating there and a slanted floor,” Sherman said. “You’d have to rent a special lift… Any amount of savings adds up.”
Sherman said next year he hopes to replace all the lights in the Dempsey gym with LED lights.
Sherman said the district also has better tools to control the temperature in the buildings and said they are able to lower heating or cooling in areas of the school that are not being used, giving the example of keeping a wing of a school cool at night for parent-teacher conferences instead of having to cool the entire school.
At the board meeting, Sherman briefly discussed using solar energy at the school and said at this moment the return-on-investment for solar energy is just not worth the cost.
“Lots of people are interested in renewable energy sources but when you spending taxpayer money you need to be mindful of investment and the return on that investment and right now solar panels don’t really provide the return on that investment,” Sherman said.
Sherman did add that he hopes to experiment with solar energy in the future at the district’s transport depot on Liberty Road because they have an empty field perfect for solar arrays.
Outside of the buildings, the district is also begun replacing diesel buses with propane buses, which Sherman said are cleaner and more efficient.
Sherman said the district has 12 buses that they’ve bought over the last three years.
“We switched to propane in 2015 because we already had infrastructure for the tank and the pump,” Sherman said. “and because the propane buses are lower maintenance costs per bus. Diesel engines are becoming more complicated with emissions equipment, propane is just easier.”
Sherman said the propane buses have taken students to Cedar Point and back with no issues and said propane pumps are fairly common for fueling stations.
Moving forward, Sherman said having data about the district’s energy usage and habits will be helpful as they continue to grow and plan on how to accommodate that growth.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.