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Schools plan to conserve energy
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With school energy usage increasing after a year that saw record savings, school officials hoping to right the ship are considering changes to school policy.
“We have to realize energy conservation is hand in hand with staffing and personnel,” said School Board chairman Bill Zechman, pointing out that money saved by conserving energy can be used to pay teachers and staff and improve education in Warren County.
Of premium concern to School Board members are early numbers which showed school system employees who had saved tens of thousands of dollars during the 2011-12 school year were not keeping the same pace this school year. Maintenance officials believe the lack of conservation has come because school staffers have fallen back into old habits when it comes to use of mini-refrigerators and not turning off electrical appliances at night.
Given the fact the savings during the 2011-12 school year were almost exclusively from behavior modification, Building and Grounds director Donnie Caldwell issued a 13-page school energy conservation manual to the School Board for its consideration. Caldwell asked board members to take the ideas contained in the manual under advisement and to consider making it part of school rules.
The manual sets forth responsibilities for staffers at the various schools, pointing out who is responsible for turning off electrical items at night. However, for the most part, the manual lists common sense ideas to save energy.
“Every person is expected to be an energy saver as well as an energy consumer,” Caldwell wrote in the manual, which he co-authored with several other members of the maintenance staff.
The manual leaves the total energy usage as the responsibility of the building administrator which is generally the school principal. However the manual points out teachers should be responsible for ensuring all unused electrical items in their rooms are turned off. Maintenance employees should double check that everything is turned off in common areas of the schools.
Some examples of planned energy-saving moves include a policy where classroom doors remain closed when the HVAC is running to provide a barrier between conditioned places and non-conditioned spaces.
The manual also calls for all exhaust fans to be turned off daily and that all office machines with the exception of fax machines be turned off. The rule also applies to all computers, with the exception of those that must be left on for various reasons.
Caldwell also suggests the temperatures be set between 68 and 74 degrees when school is in session and that they be left at 70 when the schools are unoccupied. During summer and winter shutdowns, he believes more energy can be saved by allowing temperatures to go up to 84 during the summer and down to 55 during the winter when no one is at the schools.
The changes would also have to do with lighting at the schools where changes are already under way to update systems to more efficient T8 lighting systems. On the exterior of schools, the lights should come on at 9 p.m. and go off at 4 a.m. during the summer and come on at 7 p.m. and go off at 4 a.m. during the winter.
The entire plan will be discussed at the next School Board meeting and board members have been encouraged to make any modifications to the plan they see fit.