The heat index in Sioux
City and parts of the surrounding area topped 100
That's the reason students in Sioux City grade schoolswithout air conditioningwill
get out early Wednesday, for the third day in a row.
Even though the mercury is rising, the school district's
energy bill is on the way down, thanks to a new conservation program that could
save the district millions of dollars in the future.
"I'm in every building, every week," said the district's
Energy Specialist, Jeremy Taylor, as he walked into West High School
He's often in the buildings at odd hours.
"It's during four
am on a Saturday when you hear either motors humming or exhaust fans going, that you need to monitor," Taylor
Taylor makes sure the lights are turned off, and the
air is turned down, when students and teachers are not in the buildings.
"It takes a
physical presence of being out and seeing what's actually in use when it's
supposed to be in use, and seeing what's left on at seven or nine o'clock in
the evening," he explained.
Since January, the
former North High English teacher has traded in his white board for a clip
board, helping the Sioux City
Other ways they're saving is by not running the sprinklers when it's
raining, and waiting to turn on kitchen equipment.
In ten years, the
district expects to get back as much as $4.2 million, by
flipping the switch on habits that waste energy.
Something as simple as
shortening the time of sensors in hallways and utility closets, is showing the
district a big energy savings.
are on for 20 minutes when somebody walks in, when they need only be set to two
Raw data shows some
buildings have cut costs by 30-65%. That's
information the district will use as they design future schools. A source of those savings are the air
conditioning units, which are now scheduled to stop operating when the building
is empty. Over the summer, MidAmerican
Energy called Taylor,
surprised when the meter drastically dropped.
program has done that," he asserted.
Taylor uses a color coded system to monitor every
building in the district. A school
that's red needs immediate attention, yellow means classrooms are hovering
above the ideal temperature of 74 degrees (78 is the maximum threshold), and
green is good to go. Taylor says schools usually get in the red as
a result of an equipment failure, and can be back in the green the next day.
However, some parents
and teachers have expressed concern that the classrooms are warmer than usual
because the district is shutting down the air at night.
upon me to make sure that the learning environment was maintained, and I've
received calls on that, I've made sure that we are putting that first and
foremost, even before the energy savings," said Taylor, who has two children in
the district's elementary schools.
He said during the past
week, the district has pulled back on its aggressive air conditioner schedule,
and even kept the system going overnight, to ensure the rooms are cool when
kids get to school.
Taylor said the program's success is predicated on the
school staff adapting to this new conservation culture, something he says many
are willing to do.
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