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School district earns ‘A’ for energy conservation

POSTED January 20, 2012 7:24 p.m.

The Turlock Unified School District has saved more than $1.22 million since April of 2009, when energy conservation efforts were launched. Those saved funds are diverted away from utility bills and moved back into the TUSD general education budget.

 “During these difficult budget times these types of savings are critical for the district. There is a direct correlation between those savings and programs, jobs and benefits,” said TUSD Trustee Frank Lima.

The savings represents a 27 percent decrease in how much TUSD spends on utilities. In 2009 the district’s goal was to save 20 percent.

Last year 14 TUSD school sites were presented with the federal government’s Energy Star Award and this year the entire district achieved the status. A district must be in the top 25 percent of energy efficient districts nationwide to earn the Energy Star.

The largest utility bill for TUSD has been electricity, which accounts for 80 percent of utility costs. In the base year of April to October of 2008, TUSD used more than 6.8 million kilowatt hours. During the same time span of 2011 TUSD used 4.7 million kilowatt hours.

TUSD Energy Conservation Manager Andy Walker said the district implemented measures like blacking out campuses from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every night and completely turning off all non-essential utilities during calendar breaks from school.

While it may seem unwise to black out campuses at night due the threat of vandalism, Walker said vandalism at school sites has actually decreased.

“This has been a team effort throughout the district. Anyone you talk to understands the value of energy conservation and a lot of people have adopted our practices in their own homes,” said Walker.

Moving forward, Walker said the district will continue looking at ways to save on energy consumption. “It is really an on-going process,” he said.

“This program is well positioned and it is creating a culture of energy conservation,” said Lima.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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