SLC Schools See Big Return on Conservation Efforts

SALT LAKE CITY — Three Salt Lake City public high schools have saved more than $50,000 in energy costs thanks to the district’s Go Green Earn Green Energy Challenge. The Salt Lake City School District kicked off this inaugural conservation program in July 2013, and has since been pleased with the results.

According to a statement issued by the Salt Lake City School District, the participating schools — East High, Highland High and West High — saw an average decrease of more than 21 percent in overall energy consumption. Generally, this progress was made by taking simple steps such as turning off lights, unplugging computers and office equipment, and more closely monitoring the schools’ heating and cooling systems. When combined these savings add up to a 1.15 million pound reduction in CO2, or the equivalent of taking 115 cars off the road.

The pilot program was developed by Salt Lake City School District Superintendent McKell Withers and implemented by the district’s Energy and Resource Manager Greg Libecci. “This wasn’t rocket science,” said Libecci. “The task was simple: Save energy by turning things off when they were not in use. By paying attention to heating and cooling schedules, lights, computers, printers and copiers and turning them off when not in use or when they wouldn’t be used in the near future, we saw significant power savings.”

At each school, the program quickly garnered the support and cooperation of everyone from students to staff to the custodial pool. To participate, each school principal signed an agreement that committed their facility to greater energy use awareness. The agreement also directed school staff to select Energy Challenge Ambassadors to serve as energy liaisons, as well as a student group to help direct student body efforts. Regular conservation updates were provided by Libecci to the school communities and were displayed widely throughout the schools. Students, teachers and staff were also asked to compile a set of best practices for energy consumption and post them to a central “Go Green, Earn Green Energy Challenge” bulletin board.

“The results of this ‘Go Green’ challenge have been outstanding,” Superintendent Withers said. “With a few simple acts of conservation, we are able to direct more tax-payer funds to student learning instead of utility costs. We plan to continue this program and to continually look for additional ways to conserve energy, recycle, and reduce waste.”

As an added bonus, the district returned a generous 75 percent of the savings, which ranged from roughly $11,000 to upwards of $14,000, back to the schools. Though no plans have been announced for these additional funds, Libecci said the school principals will likely determine how the money is used.