District 211 Reaches $9 Million in Energy Cost Savings

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Simple tasks such as turning off computers, monitors, and speakers before leaving the classroom each day have made a significant impact on energy conservation.

Simple tasks such as turning off computers, monitors, and speakers before leaving the classroom each day have made a significant impact on energy conservation.

As District 211 continues its energy saving efforts into the new year, data from utility invoices showed the District saw its highest energy cost savings within an eight-year period.

With a 31 percent reduction in natural gas usage and 32 percent reduction in electricity consumption, the District has saved more than $9 million. From December 2011 through November 2012, the savings totaled more than $1.2 million.

“We rely on cooperation of everyone in the District to be mindful of shutting things down, and that counts for about 25 percent of our savings,” said Reece Thome, District 211’s energy manager. “The other 75 percent comes from how we operate our heating, air conditioning, and lighting systems. Then as equipment wears out, we replace it with more energy-efficient alternatives.”

The eight-year data measurements date back to November 2004 when the District compiled baseline information to compare each year’s energy savings. Thome said it’s the little things that help keep energy costs down.  However, there is always room for improvement.

Extended periods when school is not in session key times to turn off electrical equipment. District staff has been asked to turn off unnecessary electrical equipment during winter and spring breaks, such as microwaves, coffee makers, water coolers, and to clean out and unplug refrigerators. Thome said those seemingly unimportant moves contribute thousands of dollars in savings toward operational expenses. Those dollars can then be used for the benefit of our students.

“Even though the District built additions to several of our schools a few years ago, including Schaumburg, Conant, Hoffman Estates, and Fremd High Schools, we have actually decreased our electricity and gas use,” Thome said. “We also have added more electrical equipment within the District, such as computers. If you think about it, that is pretty amazing. To increase the total size of our buildings by about 190,000 square feet within the last five to six years, add electric and gas consuming equipment, and still reduce our actual consumption of both resources by approximately 30 percent. What a tribute to our staff for participating in these conservation efforts.”

Thome said these numbers are a reason to celebrate.  Yet, continued energy savings methods from District faculty, staff, and students will continue throughout the year in hopes of maintaining or lowering future energy costs.

“Every person in District 211 has a reason to celebrate their part in conserving,” he said, “and to celebrate being a part of not only our District’s financial stability, but also our carbon footprint.”