Inside: Energy

May 1, 2004
Energy-conscious schools saluted; Making the grade; Potential savings identified


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded 2004 Energy Star awards to several education institutions.

The Fremont, Calif., Unified School District received an Energy Star award for creating a comprehensive energy plan in response to the state's energy troubles in 1999 and 2000. The effort included modernizing facilities, installing energy-efficient equipment and controls, benchmarking school energy performance, keeping thorough records and modifying behavior.

“The result is that Fremont Unified has substantially reduced natural gas and electricity use at its 41 sites, despite the addition of 110,000 square feet of classroom space and more than 2,000 computers and other technologies,” says the EPA.

The EPA also bestowed an award on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for its energy management efforts, including substantial spending on lighting upgrades and mechanical-system improvements.

The Fairfax County, Va., school district and the University of Pittsburgh were given Energy Star awards in the Special Recognition category for their roles in the “Million Monitor Drive.” That initiative is an EPA campaign to activate monitor power management, the function that places inactive computer monitors into a low-power sleep mode.


Public universities in Illinois could save between $18 million and $25 million a year through energy improvements at their facilities, a new report concludes.

“Energy Costs and Energy Efficiency at Illinois' Public Universities,” a study by the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, recognizes that universities have cut energy costs by $63 million in the last decade, but says the potential remains for more savings.

Conservation efforts “have not been applied throughout the university system, leaving large savings untapped,” the report says.

The study recommends that each university establish a “total utility management plan.” The schools should establish the plans in coordination with each other and share the information they gather with each other.

The report recognized Eastern Illinois University in Charleston as the state's most energy-efficient public university.


Orange County, Fla., public schools have launched the nation's first on-line “Utility Report Card.”

The web-based system, based on a program first used by the Walt Disney World Resort, allows school systems to monitor energy used by individual schools during everyday activities so administrators can change operations and maintenance practices to reduce consumption.

“The ability to pinpoint energy use in our nation's schools will give school districts the tool to assess where they can save energy and save money,” says U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who helped unveil the system last month at Citrus Elementary School in Ocoee, Fla.

District officials hope the system will help it reduce the $55 million a year it spends on energy.

The report card also is intended for teachers and students to use as an instructional tool to learn about school energy use and to complement the energy education materials available through the U.S. Department of Energy's EnergySmart Schools program.

Energy costs at Illinois' public universities in dollars per square foot

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign $1.45 University of Illinois-Chicago $1.85 University of Illinois-Springfield $1.83 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale $1.19 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville $1.17 Eastern Illinois University $0.99 Western Illinois University $1.07 Northern Illinois University $1.25 Northeastern Illinois University $1.29 Illinois State University $1.34

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