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SASD Energy Savings Increase

Eight Sheboygan Area School District (SASD) schools have recently earned the Energy Star rating, bringing the total number of schools to 17 out of 21 SASD buildings.

"It's an extensive procedure to earn Energy Star ratings, but the time is more than worth the savings," said Gene Gasper, SASD supervisor of energy systems and operations.

The schools that were most recently added include the Early Learning Center, Grant, James Madison, Longfellow and Washington Elementary Schools; North and South High Schools; and Lake Country Academy. Even Washington Elementary School, which was built in 1911, was able to make the rating.

The SASD is now 30.8 percent more efficient than it was in February 2006. "Our carbon footprint from February 2006 to October 2008 is equivalent to saving 39,481 tons of carbon from entering the air," said Gasper. "That's the same as taking 2,257 cars off the road for a year or the same as a 10-year acreage of not harvesting 321,596 trees. That's how much we have saved the environment."

Gasper, who has been with the SASD 24 years, was appointed energy star director in January 2006. He is passionate about finding ways to save energy. He takes time to visit each school and discover "loose" areas of electricity ranging from thermostats not working properly to water coolers that run for too long.

Items tested to qualify for Energy Star ratings include lighting, airflow and energy efficiency, among others.

"You need to know such things as the amount of total airflow in the building, how much outdoor lighted space there is, the hours of operation, what the building is used for, how many computers are in the building, the number of students in a building, whether there is food preparation or not," said Gasper. "The cooperation from the school board and administration down to the students and teachers has been amazing."

"It makes me really proud of the district," said Gasper. "As much as I am the energy manager, I cannot do it alone. It is the total commitment by the entire district that has made these savings possible."

The other SASD schools, which are already Energy Star certified, are Farnsworth and Horace Mann Middle Schools; and Cooper, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln Erdman, Pigeon River, Sheridan and Wilson Elementary Schools.

In order to maintain the standard, Gasper and his team need to ensure that every school engages in a summer shut down, based on how the school is used during summer months. Gasper added, "There are 21 things we do in the summer to save energy."

Gasper is working on another cost-saving project at Pigeon River Recreation Department.

"By going from incandescent lights to compact fluorescent lights we're going to save approximately $42/week in electricity and the payback for me doing that is only 12-14 weeks," explained Gasper, adding that within four months the savings will add up to $7/day.

According to Gasper many teachers and administrators, as well as students, are taking these energy saving ideas home saving money in their households, and benefiting the environment.

Some "easy" cost-saving measures that can be taken in homes including closing off unused rooms, turning off lights, unplugging unused devices, keeping freezers at least 2/3 full, close shades and curtains for insulation, use digital thermostats and reverse ceiling fans for winter months, which pushes the heat back down.

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
December 23, 2008