Carson City schools earn energy efficiency certifications | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City schools earn energy efficiency certifications

Dan Davis
Carson City School District

Nine out of the 10 Carson City School District schools earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star certification, which signifies their buildings perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.

"This is further evidence supporting our commitment to environment stewardship and education," said Richard Stokes, superintendent for the Carson City School District. "The more money we can save on operational costs improves direct funding for our students. Clearly, this has been a team effort, and everyone continues to do their part in maximizing our finite resources."

The CCSD also touts the lowest energy expenditures, on a per pupil basis, of all Nevada school districts, he said. Energy and utility costs generally account for 20 to 40 percent of a school's maintenance and operations budget, and can be much higher if equipment is beyond its useful life.

According to a recent U.S. Green Building Council report, factors like thermal comfort and classroom lighting "affect the stress levels, health and well-being of occupants in schools," and can influence student achievement.

Commercial buildings that earn EPA's Energy Star certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. CCSD improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across the entire district and by making cost-effective improvements to its buildings.

Schools in Carson City averaged 94 percent to qualify for the Energy Star Certifications including four schools earning 97 percent or higher. The base percentage to qualify is 75 percent.

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Energy Star Certifications by site and Energy Star score:

Bordewich Bray Elementary School, 90 percent

Carson High School, 91 percent

Carson Middle School, 93 percent

Eagle Valley Middle School, 98 percent

Empire Elementary School, 98 percent

Fremont Elementary School, 97 percent

Fritsch Elementary School, 97 percent

Mark Twain Elementary School, 91 percent

Seeliger Elementary School, 93 percent

According to a U.S. Department of Energy report, money spent on fueling a school exceeds the money spent on salaries, supplies and books. Annually, schools spend in excess of $6 billion on energy alone, a cost that could be cut by 25 percent with better energy-saving initiatives.

In May 2016, the district hired McKinstry, an energy service company, to audit all the district's facilities in search of additional energy savings. This audit, paid for by the Nevada Governor's Office of Energy Performance Contract Audit Assistance Program, identified dozens of potential improvements that would save utility and operational costs.

"We use more than a third less energy than an average school," said Mark Korinek, director of operations and services for CCSD. "As a district, we are down from 46 to 41 on the Energy Usage Index. The 46 EUI number last year, down from 49 in 2014, was really remarkable to begin with, but to see a decrease even from there is truly a testament to our retrofit project and McKinstry's energy-awareness and behavioral change program called powerED."

The powerED program engages students, staff and faculty across the district in energy, water and waste conservation efforts. The program promotes energy efficiency and how to eliminate waste within facilities, ultimately helping the district save money. Much of this effort is focused on demonstrating to students and faculty how small changes – such as turning off lights, biking to school, recycling and composting, shutting off unused electronics and buying locally produced items – can make a difference in their lives every day.

Commercial buildings that can earn the Energy Star include offices, bank branches, data centers, financial centers, retail stores, courthouses, hospitals, hotels, K-12 schools, medical offices, supermarkets, dormitories, houses of worship, and warehouses.

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products, 1.4 million new homes, and 20,000 commercial buildings and industrial plants that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Over the past 20 years, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with help from Energy Star.

For information about Energy Star Certification for Commercial Buildings: energystar.gov/labeledbuildings.