School energy conservation efforts shift taxpayer funds from energy to education.
A key leader of the Environmental Protection Agency’s national ENERGY STAR program saluted Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) for leading the state and ranking among the top school divisions in the country for certified energy saving facilities. Taxpayer dollars not spent on utility costs can be better used for educational purposes.
Jean Lupinacci, Chief of EPA’s ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Branch, presented EPA ENERGY STAR certifications to 15 Prince William County Public Schools,signifying that their buildings rank in the top 25 percent nationwide for energy efficiency. PWCS has certified more schools ENERGY STAR this year than any other school division in Virginia, and currently ranks among the top in the nation.
“Prince William County Public Schools is a shining example that improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is not only good for business, it’s critical to protecting the climate and the environment,” said Lupinacci. “PWCS is leading the way in Virginia and across the nation by making their buildings more efficient and earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification on 15 school buildings.”
Lupinacci spoke at Gar-Field High School, which achieved its ENERGY STAR Certification for the first time this year, through a combination of conservation measures and a culture of sustainability and careful stewardship of energy use. Fourteen other PWCS schools followed similar prescriptions to secure their certifications. Principals of several of the certified schools were one hand for the EPA recognition.
“We are proud to be a model for school energy conservation success,” said PWCS Deputy Superintendent Rae Darlington. “We project that conservation will save us from having to spend $8 million taxpayer dollars for energy over the next three years. In addition, our efforts cut energy use and pollution –avoidance that is the equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the road. That’s the kind of result we owe to our community and the kind of example we are proud to set for our students.”
PWCS energy conservation initiatives span the Division and involve students as well as teachers, administrators, and facilities staff. The Division works in partnership with national energy conservation consultant, Cenergistic, to find and implement scores of changes that allow schools to save energy without diminishing educational goals or the comfort of school occupants.
“As a national program, we work in partnership with thousands of organizations across the country,” said Lupinacci. “It is a pleasure when demonstration of national leadership happens right in our backyard.”
The PWCS Office of Energy Management is leading the money and environment-saving efforts through aggressive facility scheduling that maximizes efficiency, routine audits, and energy conservation campaigns in schools and offices. Significant decreases in utility usage have occurred simply by unplugging “vampire devices,” electronics that do not need to be plugged in 24/7.
Energy conservation savings can be directed toward continued investment in infrastructure improvements capable of generating additional savings and greater efficiency. Measures such as building automation improvements, boiler fuel conversions, lighting control systems, and building thermal insulation, will ultimately fuel further savings for education.
“Energy savings have been accomplished with no loss of comfort and no serious inconvenience, but with the knowledge that we are doing the right thing for our students, our community and our future,” said Cherif Sadki, principal of Gar-Field High School.
“The ENERGY STAR recognition is further proof that our students are learning the value of saving precious natural resources,” added Darlington.
ENERGY STAR certified schools are:
|Alvey Elementary School
Antietam Elementary School
Bennett Elementary School
Enterprise Elementary School
Gar-Field High School
Henderson Elementary School
Independent Hill School
Fred M. Lynn Middle School
|McAuliffe Elementary School
Montclair Elementary School
Old Bridge Elementary School
Rosa Parks Elementary School
Springwoods Elementary School
Westridge Elementary School
Woodbridge High School