The District underwent a contract with Cenergistic energy consulting firm in December of 2012. Cenergistic, formerly Energy Education, has been in business for 26 years with a track record of helping its clients save more than $3 billion. Initial estimates were that Cenergistic could help us reduce our expected utility costs by $4.2 million over a period of ten years. After evaluating our set points and run times, it is possible we could improve that by as much as 50%.
The Board adopted a policy and guidelines with recommendations from Cenergistic. The guidelines are to standardize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) set points, run schedules, and define what constitutes building occupation/non-occupation. There are also lighting recommendations to be considered. We are expecting our reduction to be about 80% HVAC, 10% lighting, and 10% plug-ins. Just as in a residential setting, HVAC is one of the greatest power draws and consumes a lot of natural gas and electricity. The best thing about the program is a majority of the reduction or savings is when the building is unoccupied. There are also two great points about Cenergistic: first, that the our contract with Cenergistic is guaranteed, meaning that if we don't see savings following their recommendations they reimburse the District for expenses, including the salary of the Energy Manager; second, the contract we signed with Cenergistic is a four-year contract; however, after our contract is up, we remain partners with Cenergistic for life. At any time beyond the four years, we can call on them for leadership, advice, or to come visit us and see what we need to do to improve our cost avoidance program.
Cenergistic has a department specifically dedicated to helping us become ENERGY STAR Certified. That means our buildings must operate in the top 25% of buildings of their type to become qualified. Nearly 65% of the K-12 ENERGY STAR Certified buildings in the country last year were partners with Cenergistic. Cenergistic will send experts to our district to evaluate each building and how it operates. The evaluation will take into account relative humidity, temperature, ventilation and other factors. In 2011, Farley Elementary did receive an ENERGY STAR Certification. Every year, the buildings will be reevaluated and considered for certification. It is completely possible to be ENERGY STAR Certified one year, and not the next.
An important part of the program is that it is designed to ensure that students and staff are comfortable during class time and scheduled activities. The guidelines help us make that happen. If anyone has questions, they should contact the District's Energy Specialist Chris Crockett, rhckcorc|ten.734dsu. Often, we find that an area is not comfortable because something needs to be adjusted or repaired. So when we all do our parts — control the energy use in our own areas, and notify maintenance when something doesn’t seem right — we will save money for education.
USD 437 has over 1.1 million square feet to comfort cool and heat. That will be, by far, the biggest opportunity for us to reduce waste. The High School alone is about 33% of that space, making it the greatest opportunity to reduce and show the most improvement. Our second largest cost center is the Middle School.
The most important role of this program is to set a good example for the community by showing our interest in reducing our carbon footprint, trying to improve the quality of our environment, as well as better allocating and appropriating tax dollars.