Keeping energy usage low in school districts is a team effort, according to a trio of energy managers who related the steps they’ve taken to lower energy costs for their respective employers and lessons they’ve learned.
The panelists – Scott Spalding, Marion County Schools energy engineer; Britney Ragland, University of Kentucky energy manager; and Chris Adkins, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky energy management specialist – speaking at the School Energy Summit, discussed the importance of tracking actual energy usage because utility rates fluctuate.
Chris Adkins (left), Britney Ragland and Scott Spalding spoke during the School Energy Summit last month about how they’ve lowered energy usage for their employers.
Spalding said he talks to his board members not only about dollars saved but also energy saved. He compared it to not being able to control the price of gasoline, but “we can control what kind of car we drive.”
Marion County has seven schools that are all labeled ENERGY STAR, one of only 18 districts in Kentucky with that distinction. Among those seven schools is Lebanon Middle School, which is one of nine schools in the state to ever score 100 on its ENERGY STAR rating. Lebanon Middle’s rating in 2010 was about 53.
In 2014, the Marion County school board approved a guaranteed energy savings contract to use energy savings to fund upgrades at the middle school, including HVAC and roof upgrades.
Spalding said “it’s really just across the board a team effort,” with everyone from board members to principals and students and all seven schools doing their part.
Ragland said at UK energy specialists had to show the higher-ups that “if you will allow us to do these energy savings projects, we will be able to bring 10, 15, 20 percent savings per year and just be able to start snowballing.” She said it’s important for energy managers to “keep trying to make the lightbulb come on in your financial people’s head about the importance of doing this. The money is already there in some cases. It’s just them allowing you to use it.”
Adkins said every Toyota plant in the nation has energy teams. “We all work collectively … and decide what’s our best foot forward.” He also said everyone at the Georgetown plant “has a sense of pride and ownership” and works to help improve the energy efficiency.