School district works at keeping energy costs down

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2000

Patty Zimmerman ran an advertisement for her campaign in the Aug. 16 edition of the Juneau Empire in which she stated "her primary issue is to call attention to the flow of cash through our city departments" and said "she will target decreasing the million dollars that we spend annually heating the High School as a cost savings measure."

In order to avoid a widespread belief that the Juneau School District is negligently wasting money on energy, this is offered to illustrate that the district effectively employs a number of strategies to minimize the energy usage associated with the operation of its facilities.

The district has a computerized energy management-control system that operates all its schools. This system minimizes oil and electricity consumption by controlling temperature settings, scheduling run times for heating and ventilation equipment and also lighting loads. It has been in place since the early 1980s and is continually upgraded and refined. All renovations and/or new facilities are specified to include compatible systems. It has paid for itself many times over in its energy savings and, in fact, qualified for federal funding at initial installation due to its projected pay-back schedule.

The Board of Education also has a policy that addresses energy conservation and governs temperature settings, heating and ventilation unit run times and building lighting.

Additionally, as a condition of eligibility for state-funded Capital Improvement Grants, school districts are required by statute to address energy management for buildings owned or operated under their jurisdiction.

The Juneau School District has done a respectable job in controlling heating costs and would be hard pressed to bring the figures any lower. For the record, the average annual heating oil consumption for Juneau-Douglas High School over the last eight years is right at 70,000 gallons with an annual average cost of $53,000 as opposed to $1 million as suggested in Patty Zimerman's advertisement.

Gary M. Bader


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