District hires resource conservation manager

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Washougal High School is getting an upgrade to its heating and cooling systems in the hope of becoming more energy efficient. The move is part of a district-wide energy conservation plan.

In an effort to both think green and save green, the Washougal School District has begun several energy conservation initiatives.

These include putting a ‘green team’ of staff, students and parents at every school, and completing energy audits in all facilities with the goal of reducing energy consumption and costs.

“Perhaps one of our most important gains has been in the area of staff and student awareness that energy conservation is a priority,” Superintendent Teresa Baldwin said.

Currently, the district is working to revamp the heating and cooling systems at Washougal High School.

“It is the facility with the highest energy use, so it was one of our first concerns,” Baldwin said.

The district has contracted with Geert Aerts, an energy engineer with Educational Service District 112, to complete the project. He is receiving $17,480 to do the work. In addition, he will receive $25,528 to provide district-wide energy conservation management services for the 2010-11 school year.

A resource conservation manager is responsible for developing a plan that results in reducing energy and systems costs district-wide.

Some of the tasks Aerts is working on include installing programmable thermostats in portable classrooms, programming and monitoring heating/cooling control software so that unused spaces are not heated or air conditioned unnecessarily, and working with staff and students to help them understand how they can contribute to energy savings.

“This type of program needs commitment and support,” he told Washougal School Board members at a recent meeting. “People really need to pay attention. With vigilance, energy costs will not rise, even if utility costs do.”

Baldwin said that one of Aerts most important tasks is applying for grants and incentive reimbursements from Bonneville Power Administration and Clark Public Utilities.

The grants are anticipated to cover 30 to 50 percent of the costs of implementing energy conservation measures.

For example, the district is anticipating being reimbursed 50 percent of the $17,480 it is paying Aerts to revamp Washougal High School’s system. When complete, the changes are expected to save the district approximately $20,000 to $30,000 this year, according to Baldwin.

“We anticipate that next year, WHS staff and students will see an improvement in classroom comfort during school days because the inefficiencies in the system that have caused over-cooling or over-heating in various classrooms will be corrected,” she said.