Thanks to an energy conservation program, Sampson County Schools saved money while helping the environment in the process.
Scott Burgin, energy specialist for Sampson County Schools, updated the Board of Education on the program, which included a partnership with Energy Star, during a work session earlier this week.
According to data presented by Burgin, the district would have increased its electric usage if no efforts were made for energy conservation.
“Due to the enthusiasm and support of all the staff at our schools, we avoided using more than 1 million kilowatt hours,” he stressed. “I’m very proud of the effort and excitement that helped us reach this impressive milestone so quickly.”
From January through April 2014, the savings resulted in more than $214,000 and 22.9 percent in energy reduction. The majority consisted of electricity ($113,030), followed by propane ($64,850), heating oil ($24,381) and natural gas ($13,626).
The cumulative monthly saving trend from September through April 2014 totaled $354,649. It also included a savings in natural gas, 7,200 gallons of heating oil and 31,000 gallons of propane.
“Can you imagine how much of an impact this would have had if we had not started this energy conservation program,” Burgin said. “When you factor in the colder days this year, our cost would have jumped over 82 percent for propane. We really dodged a bullet in propane use this year.”
Burgin said for every kilowatt hour used by the district, the power plants produced a certain amount of greenhouse emissions.
“By reducing our need for electricity, we also reduced the greenhouse emissions at the power plant,” Burgin said.
Additionally, the heating systems that use natural gas, heating oil or propane also produce greenhouse gas as part of the combustion process.
“If we reduce the amount of fuel we burn, we also reduce the admission of these greenhouse gasses,” Burgin said.
Some of the environmental equations included the removal of 142 automobiles for an entire year and plating and growing more than 17,000 tree seedlings for 10 years.
Burgin said the staff and leadership of Sampson County Schools made the project successful.
“We all continue to make changes in our routines and behaviors, which add to these savings every day,” he said. “We want them and you to know that it’s making a difference.”
Some of the changes included maintenance staff workers making changes in the heating and cooling systems; teachers reducing energy waste in the classroom; and principals and staff coordinating efforts in their schools.
Future goals include training and projects such as HVAC scheduling at a couple of schools in the county.
He also discussed student involvement.
“I have dreams of including our students in plays that can be presented to the elementary grades,” he said. “It will be a fun and creative way of introducing energy conservation to them and will offer another productive outlet for our drama enthusiasts.”
Telfair Simpson, school board chairman, said when they began looking at energy conservation, it almost looked too good to be true, but he was impressed with how much money was saved.
“It’s very impressive,” interjected school board member Dewain Sinclair said.
(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-249-4617. Follow the paper on Twitter @SampsonInd.)