Energy conservation adds up for district

More than $48,000 in net savings has occurred in a six month period

Thanks to several energy efficiency improvements at Washougal schools, the district has saved approximately $78,000 in energy costs from July to December. After the cost of the improvements, the district has trimmed $48,000 from its bills.

And that’s one budget reduction that makes administrators very happy.

“Do you want the good news or the good news?” Doug Bright, director of human resources, maintenance and operations, said before giving a presentation about the savings to the School Board last week.

Since the School District hired Geert Aerts as its part-time resource conservation manager, the number of complaints about the temperature at Washougal High School have decreased significantly.

“I’m not getting any e-mails or calls from the high school whatsoever now,” Bright said. “It was a weekly occurrence last year.”

The bulk of the improvements have been made at WHS, since it is the district’s biggest energy user.

Upgrades included a retro-commissioning of old heating and cooling equipment, installing programmable thermostats in portable classrooms, and programming and monitoring heating/cooling control software so that unused spaces are not heated or air-conditioned unnecessarily.

The cost was $45,000, of which half will be rebated by a Clark Public Utilities/Bonneville Power Administration grant.

Aerts is employed by Education Service District 112 as an energy engineer. He was paid $17,480 for the retro-commissioning project and is receiving $25,528 to provide district-wide energy conservation management services for the current school year.

The $48,000 savings includes $10,000 in fuel oil savings at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary and Canyon Creek Middle schools.

Aerts is tentatively projecting that the district will save a total of $150,000 by the start of school in September.

“We’re starting the retro-commissioning process at Cape Horn-Skye and Canyon Creek, and we should have it finished by fall,” he said. “That will be a big energy savings too. We’ll be addressing the heating and cooling systems. Things get out of tune, just like a car, and need a tune-up to keep running efficiently.”

Jim Reed, Associated Student Body advisor and history teacher at WHS, referred to Aerts as, “the man.”

“It was getting too hot in here the night of homecoming, and I called Geert, and he fixed the temperature from his laptop at home,” Reed said. “That was great he was able to do it for us.”

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