Georgia District Drives Savings Through Energy Initiative
In September 2009, Marietta City Schools (MCS) of Marietta, GA, launched a competition among the schools in the district. The "Save a Watt" competition, designed in conjunction with energy data solutions provider Apogee Interactive and energy provider Marietta Power & Water (MPW), led to energy and cost savings in every school in the district.
Contest winner Sawyer Road Elementary led the pack with a measured energy usage decrease of 22 percent between September and December, but two other schools in the district cut 20 percent or more, and every school decreased its consumption, with the overall average an astounding 12 percent.
Using ITRON Smart Meters installed by MPW and data integration and online reporting from Apogee, all 12 schools in the district monitored their energy consumption and found ways to save. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the savings came from simple changes in behavior patterns.
"We wanted to identify some sustainable behaviors, patterns that students might also follow at home," explained Thomas Algarin, director of communications and information for MCS. "For example, now if students leave a room they turn the lights off, and if they're done with a computer for the day, they turn off the CPU and the monitor." In addition, he said, when they investigated ways to save they might not have previously considered, they looked at the space that serves as both the cafeteria and school auditorium at Sawyer Road. "There's great natural lighting in the cafetorium. Why turn the lights on when you don't really need it?"
"This initiative is providing our students an opportunity to learn about energy conservation in a real-world setting," said MCS Superintendent Emily Lembeck. "In just four months, our schools reduced energy use by double-digits." She noted that, especially in a time of budget cutbacks, the savings the district realizes from the program will have a significant impact.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.