FORT LAUDERDALE – The 256 school principals of the Broward County School District next week will begin saving money by saving energy at their schools with the help of Florida’s largest utility.

Florida Power & Light Company, FPL, on November 12 will roll out a new pilot program in the Broward County School District that puts control of energy usage, and the resulting financial savings, into the hands of each of the district’s school principals.

The Energy Tools for Schools program teaches students and staff at each school specific steps for saving energy and money. They can take simple, practical actions such as turning off unnecessary lights off at 3 pm and setting back thermostats when rooms are not occupied.

District Superintendent James Notter has encouraged his principals to participate in the program by allowing them to put the savings back into their schools.

After this school year, FPL, plans to make the program available to all of the school districts in its service territory, which includes all or part of more than 35 Florida counties.

The Broward School District and FPL have partnered on energy conservation since 1998, resulting in $9 million in total savings to the school system.

As a result, FPL has nominated the school district for the Platts Global Energy Award to be announced in New York City on November 29. Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is a provider of energy and metals information.

In addition to financial savings, the reduction in energy usage from these programs has avoided emitting more than 92 million pounds of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to FPL. That is equivalent to removing 8,716 cars from the road or planting 17,832 acres of trees, the utility said.

Broward County School District is dedicated to conserving energy says Rob Jindracek, who heads the district’s Energy Conservation and Utility Management Department.

The district has implemented a multi-phase project to conserve energy and reduce costs. The first three phases of the project, which started in May of 2001, have saved the district $10 million in utility and operational costs, Jindracek says. The fourth phase includes energy conservation applications to an additional 20 to 30 schools over the next calendar year. The goal is to make all district facilities as energy efficient as possible.

Thermal or ice storage plants have been installed in seven schools, and more schools have new higher efficiency air conditioning equipment, window tinting, water heater insulation blankets, and energy management control systems.

Some schools have heat pumps which not only cool kitchens but use the waste heat to provide hot water.

More than 500,000 34-watt fluorescent lamps at 90 schools have been replaced with ecologically friendly low-mercury 28 and 32 watt lamps, which save money and provide brighter, more comfortable lighting.

Some schools have been retrofitted with occupancy sensors, which turn classroom lights off automatically when rooms are not in use.

But despite the savings, Broward County schools spend about $328,000 each school day for electricity, or about $61 million a year. Air conditioning and lighting account for about 73 percent of the total electricity usage in the school system and provide the greatest opportunity for savings.

“If we work together to use energy wisely and save where we can, it will result in lower school energy bills,” said Gene Beck, FPL’s corporate manager for governmental accounts. “If each school will reduce energy consumption by only a small percentage, a considerable amount of money will be available to reinforce other budgetary needs.”

As part of the FPL program, each school will appoint an energy coordinator who will organize teams to develop an energy management checklist and establish an energy control plan for each school.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.