Saving Energy (and Money!) in the District
In Fall of 2009 Sunnyvale School District began working with Energy Education, Inc. to begin a methodical program of conserving energy. Given the trying economic times (especially for schools!) it makes good fiscal sense for a district to pursue any means of saving money, especially where waste is involved. No one would argue that paying for energy use when the students and teachers don't need it is something we can cut!
Teachers have become familiar with reminders to turn devices off every day and unplug electronics over breaks, and district staff have helped trim heating and cooling times, fix water leaks, repair poorly-funcitoning photo-cells that operate exterior lights and fix montion-sensors on interior lights.
I was hired to be the part-time worker in charge of focusing on these issues, and I educate about what changes can be made while helping to wrangle the use and functioning of over 120 independent thermostats across the ten schools and maintain a database to track it all. Much of the district's heating and cooling is computer-controlled on a schedule, but much is still classroom by classroom, so I monitor those along with checking lights and fans and small devices. With over 250 classrooms, every small action can really add up! The great thing about the program is that it is guaranteed to at least pay for itself and the expectation is that it will likely save much more beyond that.
The teachers and staff have become great allies in this effort, and we are starting to see the results--initial numbers show us avoiding at least 15% of the energy expenditure we would have had without the program. (That is separate from the savings we are getting from the small solar installations already in place at six schools).
I am very excited to begin a new school year and continue this good work. As a parent of a 4th grader in the district, I have an extra incentive to help the district however I can and have been so impressed with the kindness and dedication of all the staff, from the Superintendent to the Custodians who are really the masters of the individual sites.
Questions or comments? Contact me at Ursula.Syrova@sesd.org