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Supt. Scott Howard: Successful Energy Conservation in Butler County

BC Schools Superintendent Scott Howard

Every public school system is pinching pennies. Districts are looking for new streams of revenue that would include but not be limited to grant writing and additional savings. Butler County Schools are constantly looking for more efficient ways to serve our children. Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant once said, "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing." It is more important now than ever before we focus on both of these concepts. I would like to share a few examples of what we have done in the past, what we are currently doing, and what we look forward to doing in the future in regards to energy conservation.

In 2004, we entered into our first performance agreement with Trane Corporation. We installed a BAS (Building Automation System) throughout Butler County High School, Butler County Middle School, and Morgantown Elementary.  We installed controllers and actuators on each of the air units in all of our classrooms. With these measures, we were able to control the amount of heated and cooled air that was being sent to each space.

Along this same time period, our local planning committee made some tough decisions, including the closing of three older elementary schools. With some great help from our legislators, Rep. C.B. Embry and Senator Brett Guthrie, we were able to secure funding for a new elementary school, North Butler Elementary. This would be our first geothermal building and our first Energy Star Building. We continued upgrading our existing facilities; more specifically we replaced an inefficient chiller and boiler at the high school. All of the piping in the mechanical room was reworked. This allowed us to utilize the heating and cooling much more efficiently. The boilers reduced our gas usage by 40 percent when we had an increase of cooling degree days of 33 percent.

We were the first district in Kentucky to have all of our schools ear the Energy Star Rating. Our energy manager, Jimmy Arnold, has made energy utilization scheduling much more sophisticated. All of our buildings are sub-zoned -- any large area that is fed by more than one air handler would be zoned, so that Mr. Arnold could have better control of the heating and cooling. The sub-zoning strategy helped us offset peaks in other areas, such as food preparation, by taking systems temporarily off-line to counter the demand. This along, saved our district thousands of dollars.

We also put demand limits on our chillers during the "off-season" months. This prevents peaks from occurring on those rare days in the winter months when temperatures may be higher than normal.

Perhaps, one of the best initiatives we are using is the Dashboard Software tool. This allows us to monitor demand and usage in "real time". Our energy manager compares historical data to the data generated by the Dashboard. He sets limits to meet the savings goals of the district for each month.

We understand that, with the concept of energy conservation, we can't rest. Our energy savings measures for the future will include a feasibility study of solar power, specifically solar panels at each of our schools. We intend to replace our existing lighting with LED lighting once it becomes cost effective. We have one older chiller in our district that needs to be replaced in the next couple of years.

I believe that one of the things that we need to stay focused on is to continue to educate our students and staff on the importance of the conservation of energy and the impact that it has on our district.

Scott Howard, Superintendent

Butler County Schools

Originally published by the Kentucky School Boards Association, Volume 13, April 2012

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