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Schoolsí energy costs down $5M

SALISBURY ó With the looming state and local budget cuts, school systems across North Carolina are looking for cost-savings wherever possible. Some have already found success and want to energize other school systems to take similar actions.
EduCon, a Winston-Salem based energy conservation consulting company, works with school systems to reduce energy consumption and costs, which in most cases is the second highest line-item in a school systemís budget.
ěEnergy costs continue to increase and account for a large percentage of every school systemís budget,î said EduCon President Nelson Jessup. ěThe reduction in energy costs will free up local dollars to address other critical school system needs during these tough economic times.î
Jessup, a former teacher and administrator, is highly experienced with school systems and knows the challenges they face when trying to balance a budget or find sufficient local funding for programs that are in jeopardy of being cut.
EduCon has helped the Rowan-Salisbury School System facilitate savings of more than $5 million ó 19 percentó during a period of seven years. These savings were achieved without sacrificing safety and comfort or having a negative impact on programs.
ěWe were mindful of our budget situation and working with EduCon, we began to accumulate savings almost immediately and were guaranteed by contract that we would not be billed until our savings exceeded fees,î Gene Miller, the districtís assistant superintendent for operations, said.
EduCon works closely with a school systemís energy manager to examine all areas of energy consumption.
An energy tracking system is implemented in order to analyze trends, identify potential problems, provide reports, calculate energy and dollar savings and provide a basis for important energy management decisions.
ěPartnering with EduCon has been invaluable,î Mike Austin, the school systemís energy manager, said. ěWe have been truly amazed at the cost savings we were able to achieve and this partnership has taken us to a new level of energy conservation and savings.
ěMoney saved in one area can result in education programs and jobs being saved in another area. School systems everywhere should be utilizing an energy program in their buildings.î
The major emphasis for EduConís energy program is based on school employees and students.
ěMany energy conservation programs fail to get desired results because they emphasize only technology and equipment and do not involve the people who occupy the buildings,î said Jessup. ěWhile EduCon does help school systems utilize the right equipment and technology, our major emphasis of ensuring the intelligent consumption of energy, must primarily involve people.
Jessup said the program focuses on awareness and change of current behavior without requiring additional staff time, effort and costs.
Austin said Rowan-Salisbury employees have embraced the changes. Thirty-three out of 39 Rowan-Salisbury City Schoolsí buildings have qualified for the coveted Energy Star rating thanks to the diligence by employees.
The school systemís electricity usage has reduced by 26 million KWH during six years and carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have been reduced by 39 million pounds.
ěThatís the equivalent to eliminating 2,600 cars or planting 5,300 acres of trees,î said Jessup.

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