5/28/14 Schools save big bucks

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The local Board of Education heard a presentation from Larry E. Price, Ed.D. (not pictured) Division Vice President, Marketing of the energy conservation company Cenergistic for the school district being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. ABSS energy specialist Dr. Randa Meehan (second from right) holds up a check in the amount of $3,942,479 in cost savings in 47 months from the school system’s energy efficiency measures. Pictured Lto R are Alamance-Burlington Schools Superintendent Dr. Lillie Cox, Kathy Oakley, William Carter, Johnny Rogers, Randa Meehan, and Board of Education chairman Tony Rose.

Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise

The local Board of Education heard a presentation from Larry E. Price, Ed.D. (not pictured) Division Vice President, Marketing of the energy conservation company Cenergistic for the school district being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. ABSS energy specialist Dr. Randa Meehan (second from right) holds up a check in the amount of $3,942,479 in cost savings in 47 months from the school system’s energy efficiency measures. Pictured Lto R are Alamance-Burlington Schools Superintendent Dr. Lillie Cox, Kathy Oakley, William Carter, Johnny Rogers, Randa Meehan, and Board of Education chairman Tony Rose.

Schools save big bucks
Taxpayers saved $4M in 47 months with energy program
By Karen Carter, Enterprise editor, The Mebane Enterprise 5/28/14  
Reprinted with permission.


Schools are saving money with a program called Energy Education.

Faculty and staff at the Alamance-Burlington School System have chalked up close to $4 million because of good stewardship with energy conservation, said Larry E. Price, Ed.D., Division Vice President, Marketing of Cenergistic.

Price came before the school board at its May 19 meeting to recognize the Alamance-Burlington School System for its savings and good habits with an Energy Excellence Award.

“Your energy-efficient practices have earned big savings, and now those good habits are earning the organization national recognition,” said Price.

Alamance-Burlington School System has achieved $3,942,479 in cost savings in 47 months since forming a strategic alliance with Cenergistic, a national energy conservation company.

“Reaching this savings mark is a significant milestone,” said Price.

The Alamance-Burlington School System achieved this success by consistently implementing the organizational behavior-based approach to energy conservation and maintaining productive efforts at all levels of the organization, said Price.

“The Superintendent and board, along with other administration, faculty and staff members are to be commended for clearly fulfilling their commitment to being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and the environment,” Price added.

Price also praised the Superintendent for joining a committed group of organizations across the country in working hard to achieve energy savings.

Dr. Randa Meehan, energy education specialist for the Alamance-Burlington School System, first gave a report to the Board of Education in January of 2010 on how the program was operating in its first year.

At the school board meeting on May 19, Price thanked her for tracking the energy consumption—including electricity, water, sewer, natural gas and fuel oil—using energy accounting software.

“She compares current energy use to a baseline period and calculates the amount of energy that would have been used had conservation and management practices not been implemented,” said Price. “By tracking consumption and analyzing energy use, Dr. Meehan can quickly identify and correct areas that need immediate attention.”

Price said that he thought so highly of Meehan’s work as an energy specialist that he has asked her to present a session a the NTC in Chicago. “This speaks highly of how well she has been trained, how well she had done her job as an energy specialist, and how much she and the program will benefit the district going forward,” said Price.

Schools are already benefiting from the new energy management, said Meehan back in 2010, when the program first started, because they are learning new ways to conserve energy. She is offering energy saving tips as well as monitoring energy usage in the schools. She meets one-on-one with principals and files audit reports and is conducting workshops with faculty.

Simple tasks such as turning off lights, computers, monitors, speakers, TV’s, printers, stereos, fans, audio-visual equipment, and attending to ventilation head up some of the tasks and lists on Meehan’s audit reports.

She puts the reports on the principals’ desks, calls maintenance when needed, and helps schools prepare for the cold spells like the recent challenges from the cold to schools in old buildings.

Meehan is calculating the savings. For example, she said at the January 2010 board meeting: “If 100 computers were turned off for 12 hours a day and on all weekends and holidays, at a rate of $.10/kWh, the schools would save $10,000 per year.”

Back in 2009, Ronnie Wall, then assistant superintendent for Auxiliary Services, began researching the energy education program and reported to the school board the savings other districts had earned. For example, according to
Wall, Orange County schools saved a little over $3 million over a four-year period, and school officials said they would do it again.

Statesville schools reported $4 million in savings, and Wayne County, $5 million in savings.

Wall said that in 2002 when the district simply tried to save money on its own without having an energy education program, the most money they could capture with Wall turning off lights was $182,000 for the year. But with an energy conservation program and the district’s own energy education specialist, the school can save big bucks over a four and five-year period.

In June of 2010, Mary Erwin made the motion and Jackie Cole the second and all the rest of the board members approved the energy education program (Brad Evans, Steve Van Pelt, and Dr. Kristen Moffitt) except Patsy Simpson, who was opposed to it at that time, she said, on the basis of spending money for the specialist.

Simpson was voting against it in a time when the state was demanding funds back from the school districts, and Simpson was concerned about the cost of hiring a specialist.

Since then, the local Board of Education has looking at how the program is working to save money by educating everyone in schools about conservation and changing behavior.

Meehan said, “Going into buildings all kinds of hours days and nights and leaving reports to principals, we can save money and not throw it out to utility companies.”

Meehan views her job as something positive, not negative, and said that the feedback has been positive from schools about her monitoring of energy.

Meehan went on to say, “We want to take our behaviors at home, such as turning off lights, and take it into the school system. Already, I am getting ‘thank you’ for our job well done and how we’re going green.”

Meehan said she also has tools available to measure temperature, humidity, and other energy uses that without such measurements, procedures might be subjective.

Meehan said her job with energy conservation and education fits her well because she likes open communication with the principals one-on-one and with the faculty through workshops. Before taking responsibility as the energy education specialist,

Meehan worked within the school system for six years as a school nurse. She holds a Ph.D. from William and Mary in behavioral ecology.