Saving Taxpayer Money with Energy-Efficient Schools

Saving Taxpayer Money with Energy-Efficient Schools
Posted on 09/27/2017
Superintendent's Column

Superintendent's Column 

With temperatures still in the mid-90s and the air conditioner running all day, it hardly feels like fall. As we work to operate efficiently and maximize resources for instruction, Leander ISD proactively monitors and invests in its facilities to provide functional learning environments and responsibly manage taxpayer dollars.

Thanks to conscientious efforts by our facility managers, all 42 LISD campuses are Energy Star qualified with an average score of 96 out of 100 – up from 95.1 last year.

Transitioning to energy-efficient light bulbs, motion-sensing lights and low-flow, sensor-activated plumbing fixtures has substantially reduced utility use. We also save on utilities during the summer by moving administrators to four-day, 10-hour-per-day work weeks.

As a result of these and other conservation measures, the district has saved a cumulative $36 million in energy costs since 2001.

We recently implemented a centrally controlled digital programming system for nearly all our schools. This includes remote access to our facility’s interior and exterior lighting, sports lighting, HVAC control and irrigation control, which uses data collected by our weather stations to better determine watering schedules.

Now, we no longer worry about classroom lights accidentally left on over the weekend, the heater running needlessly over winter break or sprinklers running mistakenly after a big rain. Especially when considering the number of extracurricular activities, after-hours meetings, community and athletic events hosted at LISD facilities by schools, parents, administrators and community groups, this oversight mechanism has provided significant utility savings.

Our new schools are constructed with an eye toward energy efficiency – collaborative, effectual layouts make better use of available space and reduce the number of needed classrooms; insulated tilt-up concrete panels help stabilize interior temperatures and prevent water penetration; and geothermal HVAC systems, which use the ground temperature to provide more than 70 percent of the energy needed to operate.

New athletic fields feature artificial turf, which save approximately 50,000 gallons of water per week when compared to natural grass fields during the growing season. All other grass areas use native grasses, which use significantly less water to maintain.

We are also gradually retiring our old diesel school buses with greener, more efficient buses that run on propane autogas. These vehicles not only reduce emissions, but they help insulate us against price spikes in regular gas like we saw following the recent hurricanes.

The conservation efforts our facility managers have made over the past 10 to 20 years, and the new technologies and systems they are constantly on the lookout for, will continue to benefit generations of LISD students and taxpayers. They set an example of responsible stewardship for our students, while allowing us to keep resources in the classroom, rather than spending it on energy waste.

I am proud of the part we are playing in this collective effort to create 1 Community, 1 Purpose, 1 LISD that is more efficient and sustainable for our future generations.