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Energy Educator Column


Energy Educator lightbulbAnother School Year Upon Us, Another Chance to Save

Despite skyrocketing utility costs, an increase in the square footage of our buildings, and a hike in the number of students and staff, South Colonie has increased its utility budget by just 4 percent or $53,000 since the 2000-2001 school year.

So, people may ask, how is it that we have accrued a “savings” of close to $2 million over the past six years?

Let me explain. After normalizing for weather, I can calculate on a yearly basis how much less energy we used as compared to the year we began our
energy conservation program. Then I calculate how much that energy would have cost us (had we not reduced our consumption) at the given price for the current period. This is known as Cost Avoidance. In essence, it is what we would have spent had we not reduced our energy use district-wide.

To date, our Cost Avoidance is more than $1.8 million. These numbers are not something only I come up with — EPA has evaluated the performance of our energy program, and has come to the same dollar amount.

The most significant amount of savings has come from what you, the users of our buildings, have been able to do by changing your routines. There are numerous examples where employees are doing their part:

  • coaches turning off gymnasium lights when gyms are empty

  • custodians turning hallway lights to 1/2 lighting as soon as possible

  • mechanics turning down the thermostats on nights and weekends

  • drivers turning off lights in the bus garage during the day

  • District Office staff making sure the board room lights are off when not in use

Any one of these examples might seem “small” to someone. However, when added together, they make an enormous impact in our budget. YOU, more than anyone, know the things that can be done to save energy and dollars where you work. Everyone understands that $200,000 in energy-cost savings means $200,000 that doesn't have to be cut elsewhere.

Energy conservation is the sum total of a lot of small things that produce a significant impact. If we all pitch in and do what we can, the result will continue to be significant.

Our energy program is truly an opportunity to cut expenses without affecting services. As we begin a new school year, I encourage everyone to make energy conservation part of our daily routine. We all want to demonstrate to our students and taxpayers that we are good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. I thank you for your cooperation and continuing interest in making South Colonie a leader in energy conservation. Have a great and energy conscious school year!