Norwin School District energy savings in two years: $532,314

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Norwin School District has received an award for energy conservation efforts that administrators said have saved the district $532,314 over the past two years.

Tim McNamee of Cenergistic presented the Award for Energy Stewardship during last week's school board meeting. His company has been working to reduce energy costs in Norwin.

"The focus of the program is to look at times when you don't need to use energy, and not heat and cool buildings when they're not occupied," explained Chris Baker, district supervisor of energy conservation.

The district used to sometimes run air conditioning in the buildings when the students weren't there, Mr. Baker said. Now, he keeps track of when the boilers are turned off and on and when the district's circulatory pumps are running.

The district's buildings -- the high school, middle school, Hillcrest Intermediate and the Hahntown, Stewartsville, Sheridan Terrace and Sunset Valley elementary schools -- have about one million square feet of space under roof, he noted.

An employee education program has also contributed to the savings. Mr. Baker said teachers were asked to turn off lights in their classrooms, close windows, draw window shades and close the door before leaving at the end of the day, and turn off lights when their students leave the classroom for lunch.

Employees typically start heating the buildings about one hour before students arrive, he said, and teachers have told him they can hear the heating system shutting down after students leave in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, the IT department also shuts off all district computers, he said.

Employees also power down copy machines over weekends and holidays.

Mr. Baker said the Cenergistic energy conservation program at Norwin uses ECAP software developed at Penn State to keep track of energy costs.

First, district employees entered all of the district's gas, water, sewage and electric bills from May 2010 to May 2011, the base year before the conservation program began. That year, the district spent $794,000 in gas, electric, water and sewage bills, Mr. Baker said.

Since then, employees have entered the district's utility bills for every month into the software, he said, so the energy savings amount is real, not based on a guess or a projection.

A press release from the district said energy savings from the program over two years equaled 22 percent.

Mr. Baker said the savings also has been accomplished with existing district equipment, without installing new lights or boilers.

He said he thinks the energy savings program "is a logical approach to finding unnecessary energy usage without impacting the teaching environment of the schools."

Cenergistic, formerly known as Energy Education, was founded 25 years ago by William Spears, a school director from Wichita Falls, Texas, who wanted to find ways to conserve energy in his district.

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Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:


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