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March 26, 2008 > District plugs in energy strategies

District plugs in energy strategies

Submitted By Rick LaPLante

Building on a reputation for environmental awareness and energy conservation, and continuing its efforts to redirect every dollar possible to the classroom, the New Haven Unified School District is adopting an aggressive program of energy management and conservation, Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi announced today.

"Even before we knew of the financial challenges facing us (the District will receive $7 million less under Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to slash state funding for education) we had identified energy management as a way we could reduce operational costs and redirect more dollars to teaching and learning," Jaurequi said in a message to employees. "It is one of the reasons we incorporated solar energy into the design and construction of Conley-Caraballo High School, and one of the reasons we have begun the process of installing solar systems at Kitayama Elementary and James Logan High."

Former Cesar Chavez Middle School teacher Michael Howey will serve as the District's new Energy Manager, as part of an agreement with Energy Education Inc., a Texas-based company that specializes in reducing energy costs at schools. Under the District's contract with Energy Education, the company is paid only if energy savings are realized.

"Energy Education has estimated that the District can save at least $5 million over 10 years," Chief Business Officer Carol Gregorich said.

Strategies for saving energy includes things as simple as turning off lights in classrooms and offices when they are unoccupied, turning off computers and other office machines when not in use, and keeping classroom doors closed when heating or air conditioning is operating.

Energy Education will identify inefficiencies in the system, and Howey will perform energy audits at all District sites on a regular basis.

"Michael is going to change the way some of us think about how we use energy, and he's going to help us change habits in ways that we probably don't even realize could save money that can be better spent on teaching and learning," Gregorich said.

"Obviously, energy management is good for the environment," Jaurequi concluded. "In this case, it also has a financial benefit that will directly impact our students."

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