Energy 300

Receiving their traveling awards (they are recycled trophies) for the energy savings at their schools at the March 18, 2014 Board of Education meeting are, left to right, Mesa Middle School Principal Gabriel Jacquez, Booker T. Washington Elementary School Principal Julieta Marta, CrossRoads Principal Denise “Dash” Ashby and, standing in for Centennial High School Principal Michael Montoya, LCPS Energy Conservation Specialist Jim Mulhauser.

LAS CRUCES – Las Cruces Public Schools passed a major milestone in mid-April, as it reached $4 million in energy cost avoidance since it began an energy education and savings program nearly four years ago.

“Since our partnership with Cenergistic started in earnest in July of 2010 with the hiring of two energy specialists, we have met or exceeded our expectations for cost avoidance each year,” said LCPS Physical Plant Coordinator and Energy Education Specialist Jim Mulhauser. “Our goal in the beginning of the program was to become a 20-25 percent program and save $1 million a year. We are solidly there, with an average of 22.5 percent in our first three performance years. To date we have reached more than $4 million in cost avoidance,” he said.

Mulhauser said the greatest energy savings is coming from reduced electrical consumption in all school district facilities. “We have done this mainly by changing our habits with respect to energy usage. Staff all over the district have learned to unplug or turn off electrical appliances when they aren’t needed. It’s simply incredible the amount of money we’ve saved by eliminating waste and becoming better consumers,” he said.

Here’s a good example of recent energy savings in the schools. From mid-December 2013 to mid-January 204, LCPS racked up 26.8 percent in electricity cost avoidance, or almost $69,000 in savings. These top-performing schools were recognized for the greatest savings: Booker T. Washington Elementary saved almost 41 percent in electricity costs, which equals $2,575. Mesa Middle School (recognized for its energy saving design when the school opened in 2010) saved 45.8 percent, or $8,258. Centennial High School saved 37.5 percent, equal to nearly $18,000. And, the CrossRoads program, which serves long-term suspended middle and high school students, saving almost 47 percent, or a total of $720.

“The most exciting news by far this year is the savings we’re starting to see at Centennial High School on electricity,” said Mulhauser. “With Centennial’s base year of data collection completed, we now have complete control of the time-of-day schedules as well as cooling and heating set points for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. For the first four months of this year, Centennial is reporting more than $36,000, or 29 percent, in cost avoidance compared to the same time period last year. When your largest facility is showing savings like this, the district’s overall numbers for cost avoidance look better and better each month,” he said.

“I am so proud of what the staff and students of every one of our schools has accomplished in saving energy,” said Superintendent Stan Rounds. “$4 million is the equivalent of almost 60 classroom teachers, or about 67,000 textbooks. And these savings have gone right back into our schools and our classrooms,” he said.

A major byproduct of the school district’s energy education program has been commitment to conservation among LCPS students of all grades and ages. “I’ve seen so many instances while doing audits during the school day where students remind each other and their teachers to turn lights off as they leave rooms unoccupied. Changing our own habits is definitely impacting our students,” said Mulhauser.

LCPS’ energy conservation partner, Cenergistic (formerly Energy Education), is a private company based in Dallas that has saved more than 1,000 clients across the country more than $2 billion in energy costs in the past 28 years.

For more information, contact Mulhauser at 575.527.2072 or jmulhauser@lcps.k12.nm.us.

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