News from the Superintendent

Energy Wise

I have heard a lot lately about our energy conservation efforts. There was a board presentation, a story on the APS website and in the local news, even a memo reminding employees to shut down during spring break – set to the tune of California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas! 

“All the kids are gone, and break starts today.
 I went for a walk down the hallway
I'll be ready to rest when I’m on vacay
Check the shutdown checklist before I go away."

The reason this is getting so much attention is that it has been very effective. Five years ago, the Board of Education passed a conservation policy committing the district to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent in 10 years. We have nearly met that goal – half a decade ahead of schedule. Not only have we become good stewards of the earth, but we also have saved taxpayers a whole lot of money – about $4 million so far. That is even more impressive when you consider we now have more classrooms and schools to light, heat and cool.

How have we done this? The credit goes in large part to the APS Energy Team, a group of dedicated employees from Maintenance and Operations and Facilities, Design & Construction who have implemented numerous energy conservation strategies. These include everything from putting solar panels on school rooftops to keeping tabs of classroom temperatures and sprinklers to implementing a facility rental process that brings in money while keeping track of building use. The team works closely with municipal utilities, other educational and governmental entities and the local community to continue to come up with more ways to save energy.

My favorite part of the conservation effort is its education component. Students and staff play a key role. Right now, about 20 schools have energy teams (Building Buddies for the younger grades and Green Space for our high schools) that develop and manage conservation and efficiency plans for their schools. I would love to see these programs in all of our schools. 

When I heard about staff and students changing their behavior to make energy conservation sustainable, I wondered what I could do to help. So, I asked the Energy Team for some simple steps for me, for all of us, to take. Here’s what they recommend:

  • Take advantage of natural sunlight
  • Switch over to LED or CFL light bulbs
  • Invest in energy-saving power strips
  • Recycle
  • Turn off lights and computer screens
  • Close unused rooms and spaces 
  • Hold an occasional meeting or class outside

I'm taking their advice! When I am in my office, I keep the lights off as much as possible, using natural sunlight instead. When I leave, I turn off my computer monitor. And I'm recycling paper and water bottles. 

Here's a challenge: Make a change to reduce your energy use and share it on Twitter using #EnergyWiseAPS. I can’t wait to see the brilliant, innovative ideas that pop up on the “twitternet”. Let’s all commit to being a little more energy-wise. Together we continue to make a difference.

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