The Houston Independent School District’s efforts to reduce energy consumption are paying dividends with a projected $8 million savings for the current fiscal year. The district’s Energy and Sustainability department credits behavioral changes, capital repairs and preventative maintenance for the reduction in costs.
“We’re excited to recognize that the district’s commitment to environmental stewardship has made a positive impact on our energy cost and consumption,” said Brian Busby, general manager of HISD Facilities Services. “The less money we spend on our utility bills means the more money we can put back into our schools.”
About 75 percent of the energy savings resulted from changes at the campus level, including standardizing HVAC and lighting schedules. The district worked with CenterPoint Energy’s SCORE program to help educate school administrators and facility managers on the benefits of energy efficiency.
Energy programs with community partners have also contributed to the reductions. Under CenterPoint’s Sustainable Schools program, Willdan Energy Solutions supplied tools for HISD teachers and students to perform energy audits. The district is also working with the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program to raise awareness of environmental stewardship.
Another 25 percent of the savings is attributed to capital repairs and preventative maintenance on all campus chillers. The district added a Quality Assurance Analyst to the Energy and Sustainability department to identify energy savings opportunities.
With some of the savings, the HISD Facilities department plans to implement LED lighting upgrades and other capital improvements to further improve energy efficiency. This will further reduce district energy consumption creating more savings to the district. Funding will also be used for future projects, including utility monitoring so that students and staff can view real-time utility consumption at their campus.
“Very direct, practical changes in behavior and policy have resulted in real savings for the district,” said HISD Chief Operating Officer Leo Bobadilla. “When we all look at ways to conserve energy, the dollars add up.”