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Energy Educator Column

Energy Educator lightbulbWhat Happens in Vegas ... Happens in South Colonie?

After emailing a district-wide reminder to shut down equipment for one of the school breaks last year, I received several responses from staff. One response in particular made me laugh.

The email read: “Jim, thank you for the reminder. I am turning off everything and heading off to the most energy wasting city in the country — Las Vegas.”

That email made me think of my own perception of Las Vegas. Everyone knows “Sin City” is a place where luxury and excessive consumption is promoted.

However, I think you would be surprised to know that beyond the bright lights and the gambling, even in the city of excess, there is interest in energy conservation.

Just as many school districts now have an Energy Manager today, so too do many casinos. One of the reasons casinos are trying to conserve energy is that customers are demanding it. In addition, it can save them a lot of money, as it has in our school district.

Looking at all the lights around Las Vegas might make the thought of energy conservation seem laughable. But things are changing even in the desert. In past years, energy was cheap. But things are different today.

One initiative currently in place in many casinos is — you guessed it — shutting down anything they can when not in use, and encouraging users of the facilities to do the same. Many resorts have also switched from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Both of these practices are also in place in South Colonie.

While profits are the motivation to energy conservation in Vegas, in our school district, saving funds on energy costs helps provide more money for our educational budget.

As we start another school year, let me share an old Chinese proverb with you: “If you do not change your direction, you are likely to end up where you are headed.”

Seven years ago our district made a conscious decision to change by establishing an energy conservation program. Since no other district in our area had an energy conservation program going, this was considered a gamble.

Fast forward to present day South Colonie. After our lead, most school districts in the area have followed suit and have created their own energy conservation programs modeled after our success. You are to thank for that. As users of our facilities, you are the backbone of our program’s success.

Over the past seven years, we have created an energy conservation culture in our schools and have avoided $2.5 million in energy use.

So the next time you visit Vegas or see that now famous television commercial, remember, “What Happens in Vegas, also happens in South Colonie.” Whether you are at South Colonie or in Las Vegas, if you see an opportunity to avoid utility waste, roll the dice. It’s a gamble worth taking!