Carson City schools continue to cut energy expenses | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City schools continue to cut energy expenses

Nevada Appeal staff report

Carson City School District has become the latest participant in an energy-awareness and savings program called powerED. McKinstry, an energy and facility services expert, will administer the two-year educational-focused program.

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.

"McKinstry is excited about our partnership with the Carson City School District," said McKinstry CEO, Dean Allen. "We're deeply committed to improving the learning environments of our schools. Our goal is to work with our partners through powerED to educate their building occupants about the importance of energy efficiency and associated environmental impacts in order to affect behavioral changes that save energy and money."

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. Funding for the Carson City School District project will come from the current Energy Performance Contract.

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.

In May 2016, the district hired McKinstry 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 (GOE) Performance Contract Audit Assistance Program, identified dozens of potential improvements that would save utility and operational costs.

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According to the Nevada Department of Education statewide annual financial report for fiscal year 2014-2015 (the most recent and available report), Carson City School District had the lowest energy expenditures, on a per pupil basis, of all Nevada school districts.