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Energy Educator Column

Energy Educator lightbulbDistrict Beats Business World to the Punch

How often do you hear the complaint that schools are behind the times in relation to business? While on vacation this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the hotel we were staying in had instituted an energy conservation plan.

More and more businesses and schools are beginning to see the value of energy management. After starting our own energy management program in South Colonie, several other districts in our area have begun their own. Our district had the insight to be an energy management leader rather than a follower.

The hotel’s plan is similar to our own, in that the goal is to minimize utility expenses without compromising the comfort of the facility users. The users of the facilities have control of the outcomes. From September 2002 to June of 2003, South Colonie has avoided over $200,000 in utility expenses. Thanks to you, our energy management program is working.

The way the hotel went about attaining their goal is also similar to our own. Users of the buildings (hotel guests and employees, or in our case, staff and students) are asked to use common sense practices to conserve electricity. Throughout the hotel were notes about the benefits of energy conservation. In addition, there were notes reminding the users of what they could control. Specifically, hotel guests could control lighting and air conditioning in their rooms.

Users were asked to turn off their lights and air conditioning when they were not in the room. Guests were also reminded that conserving energy benefitted the environment and their pocketbook through reduced pollution (a reduction of one kilowatt of electricity = in excess of 1 pound of Carbon Dioxide avoided, which helps offset the effects of global warming) and reduced hotel costs.

Great opportunities to reduce utility consumption exist in our district during occupied and semi-occupied times as well. Where possible, buildings should be using 1/2 or partial lighting in hallways. Classroom lights can be turned off whenever rooms are unoccupied (do not wait for the motion sensor to turn off the light) and computers and/or monitors can be turned off when not in use.

If (during the day) you feel there is not enough time to shut down a computer only to restart it in a short while, you can shut off the monitor. The monitor is responsible for using 2/3 of the energy consumed by a computer workstation. Whatever you are doing to conserve, I thank you for taking time to practice utility conservation.

If you see an opportunity to avoid utility waste, take the initiative to turn off or “set back” the equipment when not needed. You will be rewarded with the knowledge that your actions are prudent and cost effective. Not only are you saving tax dollars of all residents in the South Colonie District, but also saving valuable resources while decreasing pollution. Welcome back and have a great and energy efficient school year!