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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Energy consultant saves schools $124,000
Most savings result of behavioral changes

Friday, July 18, 2014


The new energy consultant firm for Franklin County public schools saved the division $124,000 as of April 30.

Hoffman Building Technologies (HBT) presented a 180-day report to the school board Monday night, stating that the company is on target to meet its goal of saving schools over $300,000 each year.

The $124,000 figure includes savings of $60,000 in electricity, $59,000 in fuel oil and $5,000 in propane, said Neil Chambers with HBT.

HBT began work in January to identify opportunities to curb excess energy use through behavioral factors and to identify inefficiencies in school buildings.

The firm has also established baseline and annual project performance reporting, according to Jon Crutchfield, director of facilities and transportation for the school division.

Some of the day-to-day procedures implemented thus far include turning off unnecessary lighting and equipment when not in use, closing classroom windows and doors when heating and air are in use and after school hours, programming computers for the "energy saver" mode, eliminating paper documents when possible and recycling all paper.

"Our heating and air conditioning is all centrally-controlled now and are set at a certain temperature throughout the day," said Crutchfield. "Computers are centrally-controlled as well and are turned off at a certain time every day."

Lights in school gymnasiums and cafeterias remain off unless class is in session, and all staff members are now turning off computer monitors if they are not in use, Crutchfield added.

All new appliances and equipment purchased for the school division now meet Energy Star certification, and personal items belonging to staff members (coffee pots, space heaters, aquariums, personal refrigerators, etc.) are no longer approved for use.

The school board approved strategies and regulations for administrators, teachers, support personnel and students in January.

Bill Brush, Gills Creek District board member, questioned the response from school staff and whether the changes were being welcomed.

"Yes," said Chambers. "Though it is a culture change."

"Everyone has really taken to it," added Crutchfield. "I haven't heard of any grumbling. The first six months is always the hardest. We have learned a lot, and once school starts, we will really work hard to save as much as possible."

Though most of the savings the division has seen stems from behavioral changes, schools have also experienced savings in fuel and propane by installing new meters and working with American Electric Power to come up with other savings options.

The school division had paid Hoffman about $115,000 as of April 30. The contract will cost the school division $230,000 for two years and will include several equipment upgrades.

Funds to pay for the energy saving program, an estimated $19,000 a month, comes from the school division's budget for electricity and heating oil, according to Finance Director Lee Cheatham said.

HBT's contract includes a clause allowing the school division to opt out of the program if the company does not produce the intended savings, Cheatham said. A third party review is also included in HBT's contract to verify savings are being achieved.

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