07/14/11 Within a few short years, the Plymouth Community School Corporation (PCSC) has been able to decrease utility costs by some $400,000. During the school board meeting on July 12, Plymouth Schools Maintenance Director Dave Schoof and area resident Bill Langdon were given plaques of appreciation for their work in identifying problem areas and taking the needed steps to realize the savings.
Schoof gave a short power-point presentation to the board. He said they have seven school buildings, administration building and a service center that comprises 832,000 square feet of space under roofs. Schoof said the oldest building was constructed in 1923 and is currently used for junior high-aged students and the newest, Menominee Elementary, was completed in 2006. According to Schoof, the largest building in the county is Plymouth High School with 328,864 square feet.
In February of 2008, PCSC began an Energy and Utility audit. The purpose of the project was to find ways to conserve the resources and in turn, control spending.
Plymouth High School was evaluated by Design-Aire Engineering of Indianapolis. All of the facilities were also audited by NIPSCO at no charge to the corporation.
Following the audits, a committee was formed consisting of school officials, maintenance staff, and Langdon. At one time, the board was considering hiring a firm to identify potential areas of energy problems. However, before the outside company was contracted, Langdon approached the board and offered his services free of charge. Langdon has been in the energy business for 31 years and currently works for Conseco-Phillips in the natural gas division.
The ultimate goal of the committee was to identity sustainable best practices for operations and reduces utility operation costs by 25 percent.
Schoof illustrated the amount of energy being conserved saying that they could provide utilities for 156 homes or take 354 vehicles off the road for a year.
In 2008, the average Kwh/Square foot for PCSC was 10.57 (930,427 Kwh total). By 2010, that figure had dropped to 7.27 (639,718 Kwh total).
Schoof said they have been able to reduce costs and keep the temperatures within the buildings at 70 degrees in the winter and 73 degrees in the summer. He said, “We are doing everything possible to lessen the impact on the environment.”
Schoof credits some of the reduction to administrators, students, staff and teachers for shutting off things when not in use,
Schoof said all but one building in the corporations has now met the qualifications to be an Energy Star school. Energy Star schools are rated on utility performance, ability to maintain industry standards for indoor environment, and standards for environmental impact. According to information provided by the EPA, commercial buildings contribute nearly 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Schoof said, “Our Energy Star buildings use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide than average buildings.”
To be an Energy Star school, they must receive a score of 75 or higher using EPA software. Plymouth’s lowest score was Webster Elementary at 86 and the highest, the Administration Building at 100. Other scores include: Lincoln Junior High, 99; Menominee Elementary, 93; Plymouth High School, 83; Riverside Intermediate, 89; and Washington Elementary 94. Jefferson Elementary is the only one not officially named as yet, but Schoof said that now have “pending “status and a score of 90.
Carol Anders Correspondent