SD51 will try to improve energy savings

School District 51 is joining a federal energy efficiency program aimed at reducing energy consumption in U.S. buildings by at least 20 percent by 2020.

The district is one of nine public K-12 systems in the country participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge.

The Department of Energy on Tuesday announced 36 new Better Building participants, including District 51 and the City of Arvada, during the Better Buildings Summit for State and Local Communities in Denver. Participants will invest in energy-saving projects in their buildings and share their experiences with other organizations. In return, the Energy Department will offer guidance and connections to people who can help challenge participants achieve energy efficiency and offer participants national recognition for their efforts.

Eric Anderson, District 51 resource conservation manager, said he is not sure whether the district can include past energy efficiency projects when calculating the district’s percentage decrease in energy consumption, but he hopes so. The district has decreased its energy consumption by about 40 percent compared with 2006-07 through a variety of projects, including swapping lights for more efficient bulbs, installing more efficient heating and air conditioning units and hooking up solar power systems at three schools: Chipeta Elementary School, The Career Center and Dual Immersion Academy.

Anderson said the district plans to install more solar power systems at Grand Mesa Middle School, Mount Garfield Middle School, Redlands Middle School and Rocky Mountain Elementary School but does not have money budgeted for enough additional projects to reduce the district’s energy use by another 20 percent between 2012 and 2020. A 50 percent reduction in energy use at district buildings by 2020 compared to 2006-07 is a more realistic goal, according to Anderson.

Twenty-two businesses, seven institutions of higher education, 34 counties or municipalities, six states and the District of Columbia have joined the challenge since its inception last year.


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