• November 24, 2014

Killeen ISD searches for ways to reduce energy costs

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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 4:30 am

And you thought your utility bill was high?

Robert Muller, Killeen Independent School District superintendent, said the district pays about $8 million a year in utilities alone.

“It’s a big-ticket item for us,” he said.

With those numbers in mind, the district’s executive director of facilities services, Kenneth Crawford, presented some potential energy initiatives that he believes could lower the district’s costs.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for us,” Crawford told members of the district’s board of trustees during a Tuesday presentation.

Crawford said he looked to energy-saving systems and tactics used by universities and even large hospitals to develop some of the suggestions in his presentation.

“They are the ones who are testing these systems out,” he said.

While Crawford’s presentation offered a number of ideas to reduce energy usage in several areas, Crawford said one of the biggest costs to the district is lighting.

“This is where most of the energy is used,” he said. “Lighting is probably the lowest hanging fruit you’ve got.”

As part of the proposal, Crawford suggested replacing the lighting at the district schools and facilities with more energy-efficient systems.

Certain kinds of lights, such as 234-watt T5 fixtures, would not only use less energy but would also have to be replaced less frequently.

As a pilot project, the department replaced five 1,000-watt, high-pressure sodium fixtures in the main administration building’s parking lot with the 234-watt T5 fixtures. The change saved the district $2,100.

“That’s just one parking lot,” Crawford said. “Think of what we could do if we did it to all of them.”

According to Crawford’s report, retrofitting 58 similar systems throughout Killeen ISD could yield annual savings of $81,947 and reduce consumption by more than 826,000 kilowatt hours after about 3½ years.

The report also included other possibilities, such as retrofitting the lighting system at Leo Buckley Stadium. The current stadium uses 137 metal halide fixtures, which eat up about 608,080 kilowatt hours each year. Changing those lights to LED fixtures would cut that number by 73 percent, with a possible combined savings of more than $51,000 after five years, according to the report.

While the prospect of saving money and giving the district a smaller carbon footprint is appealing, many of the initiatives he presented would require up-front expenditures, and cost savings would not be realized until years down the road.

“It will cost us money up front, but we will save later,” Crawford said. “It is an investment.”

Even though Killeen ISD may have to wait two to five years to see a return on some of the suggested initiatives, Crawford’s report also pointed out that those initiatives would continue to decrease utility costs, and allow greater reinvestment and improved opportunities for growth.

While the school board considers the cost and reward of implementing the initiatives, Crawford said the district is working with campuses to enact policies and procedures regarding energy use and consumption, which will have a more immediate effect on energy costs.

Some of those measures include monitoring energy use at each campus and having custodians conduct spot checks.

“We really need to start thinking about energy conservation,” Muller said. “We are required to reduce our energy costs, and it’s the right thing to do.”

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