D51 invited to White House energy forum

District 51 was the only school district in the United States invited to speak about success in energy efficiency at a recent White House Council on Environmental Quality meeting.

Three panels of three people each, including District 51 Maintenance and Operations Director Cal Clark, spoke June 19 at the White House-adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building. About 150 energy contractors, legislators and others gathered for the meeting, Clark estimated.

Public entities, private businesses and school systems who had achieved energy savings were invited to be on the panels. In March 2012, the district became one of 15 school system partners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge tasked with achieving a goal of reducing energy consumption by at least 20 percent by 2020. Thanks to recent energy efficiency projects, District 51 reached its personal goal this year of reducing energy consumption by 30 percent in its buildings seven years early.

“It was a real honor for District 51 to be recognized and have an opportunity to be invited to the White House and represent Colorado and discuss some of the things we’ve done to achieve our energy reductions,” Clark said.

The panel discussion focused on how public and private entities save money on energy bills through performance contracting, a process in which a business or government agency hires a company to make energy-efficient improvements to its building or buildings. The contract is paid off gradually by the business or agency, paying the contractor the difference between what it usually spends on energy and the lower amount after energy improvements.

Contractor Trane began a three-phase series of energy efficiency projects around the district in 2009. Projects included installation of high-efficiency lighting systems, replacement of aging appliances and equipment, boiler and heating and cooling system replacements and installation of skylights that capture maximum light by adjusting as the sun moves across the sky. In August 2012 to May 2013 compared to the same months in 2008-09, the district’s propane/coal and electricity costs each dropped 11 percent and the district’s natural gas expenses dipped 43 percent, according to District 51 school board documents.


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