NOKESVILLE, Va. - A Northern Virginia school district said it has saved millions of dollars by going green, with one high school cutting its electric bill by as much as 30 percent. The move to make schools energy efficient has apparently saved jobs and programs while infusing extra cash into the school system.
Prince William County Public Schools said it has saved $22 million over the last five years by making tweaks, big and small, all to preserve energy.
At Patriot High School in Nokesville, 18-year-olds Joanna Lee and Julianne Lee are doing their usual last-minute check to make sure lights are out inside the classrooms. It is just one item on a list of responsibilities aimed to continue energy conservation efforts district-wide.
“It's the little things that add up to getting the big cost down,” said Joanna. “For students, that would be turning off your laptops, desktops, unplugging our phone chargers. And for teachers, closing the windows, turning off their lights.”
“We learned that when things are recycled and remade into something else, you're not starting from scratch,” said Julianne. “You’re starting from something that is a product that has already been halfway made and so you are saving half of the energy.”
In most buildings across the school district, the room that uses the bulk of energy is the mechanical room.
“We have converted boilers from fuel oil to natural gas, which is a more energy efficient system,” said Jeanne Jabara, energy education coordinator for Prince William County Public Schools. “We have also replaced lights with LED lights and we have replaced mercury halide lights with T5s and T8s, both more energy efficient lighting. We have also put in light sensors so when people leave rooms, then all the lights go off.”
The mission here? To go green, stay green and save money.
“By saving $22 million and reducing our energy cost, we will be able to put that money back into schools and provide benefits,” said Jabara. “Again, saving jobs and adding staff.”
Prince William County Public Schools said its energy conservation efforts are equivalent to cutting out 20,000 cars on the road each year. The energy-saving mission has also kept plenty of employees on the road – heading to work in a cleaner, greener, money saving machine.