Gwinnett County School System Saving Energy, Saving the Environment, Saving Millions
Gwinnett County School System Earns the ENERGY STAR® Certification
From energy audits to ENERGY STAR, the largest school system in Georgia earned the coveted designation for 113 of their schools. Top performing ENERGY STAR certified schools cost 40 cents per square foot less to operate than the average performer.
ENERGY STAR certification is a stringent process that assesses how efficiently a building uses energy, relative to similar buildings nationwide and rates their performance. With 22 million square feet certified, Gwinnett County schools are saving energy and money.
“The professional energy audits conducted by Jackson EMC and other utility providers are an integral part of our energy action plan,” stated Jim Steele, chief operations officer for Gwinnett County schools. “We have achieved the ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy performance at 113 schools. We won’t stop there – our plan is to have all our schools ENERGY STAR certified this year. Saving energy saves millions of dollars in operational costs not only today, but in the future as energy costs increase.”
“We believe as good stewards of county taxpayers’ money and the environment that we have an obligation to become as energy efficient as possible,” says Steele.
“This initiative is a system of strategic planning, teaching, learning and doing that results in a greener and healthier natural world.”
Steele remembers the work toward energy efficiency began long before the certification process. “We made cost effective upgrades after our professional energy audits. Upgrades such as lighting retrofits are in process now. We’re replacing older fixtures with fixtures that are 48 percent more efficient, and adding occupancy sensors. We are upgrading our automated energy management system and have removed compact refrigerators, desk and floor lamps.
With 113 of the system’s schools now ENERGY STAR certified it’s validation of our district’s efforts to reduce costs and protect the environment. To date, we’ve made changes that will save us over $8.4 million a year,” Steele explained.
In addition to equipment upgrades, the school system encouraged behavioral changes. Last year, 60 percent of our schools were involved in the Green & Healthy program, which is a joint initiative of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and Gwinnett County Public Schools.
The system received 113 plaques to display in each ENERGY STAR school, and a few months ago, the system earned the 2011 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award presented by the United States Green Building Council.
Josh Priewe, Jackson EMC Commercial/Industrial representative, serves the Gwinnett School system. “Jackson EMC continues to conduct energy audits at the schools we serve. Our audits provide no-cost to low-cost recommendations, along with more sophisticated energy improvements to help the system reduce their energy costs,” says Priewe. “We’re not just an energy provider, we’re business partners and our goal is to help the system save money.”
“Working in partnership with our utility providers gives us access to their expertise, which is an invaluable resource,” states Steele. “Achieving the ENERGY STAR certification is definitely a team effort.”