Special to the Register
The Kentucky Department of Education released its statewide rankings for Energy Utilization Statistics for the 2011 fiscal year. Madison County Schools ranks 5th out of 140 districts using the least amount of energy per square foot. The national average for kBtu usage is 73 kBtu per square foot. The state average is 65 kBtu Madison County Schools used an average of 43.17 kBtu per square foot.
“This is a great ranking to be near the top,” said Chief Operations Officer Marvin Welch. “The low usage means significant savings on our utility costs.”
“If you are using less energy overall when rates rise, especially significantly, these things are going to be particularly important,” said Mark Ryles, Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative District Facilities Consultant and former director of
the Kentucky Department of Education District Facilities Branch.
Ryles said the data shows Madison County Schools is a great steward of resources through conserving so much energy.
“It’s more about the operations and procedures and policies,” Ryles said. “Design and construction are important too, but operations and proper use of the facilities is what makes it work. Madison County did these things not because they had to, but because they were smart to.”
Madison County Schools began a focus on energy conservation several years ago, said Maintenance Director Larry Curry. He and district electrician David Rorrer are the district’s energy managers.
“We were just trying to reduce costs in the beginning,” Curry said. “Now the focus has shifted to reducing energy consumption. And we are excited to see the students now getting involved and the schools becoming more aware and active in the process.”
The district was a charter member of the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS), Curry said. The membership was used as an opportunity to give a name to what the maintenance department and the district had in place.
“We were busy doing the necessary things for conserving energy and we never worried about putting a label to it,” Curry said.
With programs such as KEEPS and SEMP (School Energy Managers Project), Curry said the district is able to continue making gains in the area of energy management. SEMP is a federally funded program that provides districts with grant money to aid in the decrease of energy usage. The funds provided by SEMP have been used for the purchase of the Energy Watchdog software program for tracking energy usage in each building owned by the district, thermal imaging equipment, energy efficiency equipment such as occupancy sensors and education program for students and staff, Curry said.
The district is working with student groups such as Madison Central High School’s Green Project to find new ways to decrease energy consumption in the district, he added. Buildings have to be operated to see big savings and reductions in usage, Curry said, adding that students often can be influential in the process of identifying areas were schools could be more efficient. The group at Madison Central has asked for additional occupancy sensors for the school. Rorrer said those sensors have been order and are being paid for with SEMPS funding.
The renovations to the HVAC system at Clark-Moores Middle School already have significantly reduced consumption at that building.The reduction is around two-thirds of last year’s usage and that reduction is not included in this report, Rorrer said.
The district also received official notification this week that B. Michael Caudill Middle School and Kingston Elementary School both have earned the Energy Star from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Star is given to buildings that use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.
The district is working to receive the Energy Star for other buildings in the district as well, Rorrer said. And because of the district’s commitment to energy conservation, all new construction in the district is being designed for Energy Star ranking, including Farristown Middle School.