DUSD wins award for energy savings

DOWNEY - In awarding the Downey Unified School District Tuesday with its Energy Excellence Award, Energy Education, a national energy conservation company based in Dallas, Tex., and with which DUSD has formed a strategic alliance since 2001, cited it "for excellence in environmental and financial resource stewardship, for serving as a model of energy conservation to fellow school districts, and achieving more than $8.6 million in savings in 101 months, through April 2010."In all this time, said presenter Marc Starkey, EE regional vice president, "no one of the 76 school districts in the state of California has accomplished what DUSD has done." Indeed, DUSD's accomplishment has been creating buzz, Starkey said, among the 1,000-odd school districts found in 48 states across the country. DUSD energy education specialist Calvin Davis, who has shouldered the task of coordinating the district's energy conservation program since its inception and who received the award on behalf of DUSD, said the $8.6 million saved by the district is "huge," as it meant nothing less than saving some jobs and probably a few programs, etc. As expected, main energy consumption per year is electricity, he said, accounting for $6.6 million in costs this year, followed by natural gas (for heating mostly) consumption of $1 million, $0.5 million worth of water, and other miscellaneous costs (sewer, fuel oil, etc.). The main factor in energy savings, he said, is a change in habits of people. This means that there's been a radical transformation in the way administrators, staff, teachers, and just about everybody in the district has approached the matter. There are "two things we can't control" in this regard, Davis said, "the weather, and rates. The beauty of it all is energy usage has remained level and, despite increased rates, the district has found ways to realize savings." Energy conservation, he said, peaks during the summer break, when most are away on vacation, etc. "This is the time to pile on those credits, which can then be used up, but in measured ways, during the course of the school year." To give just one example, he said, immediate dollar savings ensue when somebody turns on the air conditioning unit only when it's needed-then, and this is a big then, he or she should close that door: insulation is one of the chief contributors to reduced energy consumption. "The board has been 100 percent behind this program, too, and they deserve a lot of credit for its success," said Davis. After all is said and done, he said, "We intend to do better in the future."

********** Published: July 1, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 11