HISD awarded more than $342,000 for energy-saving efforts

The Houston Independent School District’s efforts to save energy and reduce utility costs are paying off in a major way.

The district received more than $342,000 through the CenterPoint Energy SCORE program, which rewards school districts with cash incentives for implementing energy saving projects and strategies.

The incentives were due in large part of the work of two departments — Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations and Construction Services. Together, they helped the district more than triple the amount received during the previous 2017-2018 earning period.

“It’s a major accomplishment,” said Drew Scatizzi, energy efficiency manager for CenterPoint. “We didn’t want to lose sight of the fact of how impressive that achievement was. There are very few school districts that jump in numbers that much.”

CenterPoint Energy celebrated the district’s designation as a top performer during the 2019-2020 earning period with a small, physically distant ceremony, check presentation, and to-go luncheon.

The funds will go to HISD’s General Fund to support schools. 

“I’m happy that the number has increased over the years, especially with us operating during a pandemic,” Interim Co-Chief Operating Officer Alishia Jolivette said. “It’s just going to feel so great to give it back to the students. I’m excited about that.”

About 47 percent of the district’s major earnings from the last two years resulted from upgrades to campus air-cooled chillers. Other earnings resulted from installation of LED lighting and lighting controls, as well as energy-efficient campus construction and renovation projects.

The SCORE program is not just about incentives. It’s about lowering utility costs, too.

“We spend millions on utility bills alone,” said HISD Energy and Sustainability Quality Assurance Analyst Stephanie Walker, who championed the SCORE program for HISD and helped identify ways to conserve energy. “To be able to reduce that number while also bringing money back in is a good feeling.”

In total, the SCORE Program has awarded the district more than $660,000 since 2010. 

“I just want to say thank you,” HISD Energy Sustainability Senior Manager Kirby Williams said to colleagues at the ceremony. “Thank you for working with us. All the success is owed to a team effort.”