Hillsborough County School leaders now have a better idea of what schools are doing well and what schools need to improve when it comes to conserving energy.
Utility costs are a major component of Hillsborough County Public Schools operating budget each year, according to the district's latest Energy Conservation Annual Report.
District leaders are a part of a program that offers incentives to schools that are able to cut costs. As a further incentive to conserve electricity, beginning in 2001, schools that failed to meet their targets are required to share in the additional expenses, through energy penalties. As in past years, new or recently renovated schools, and schools with major construction projects or other issues affecting consumption are excluded from the incentive program.
School incentives are now based on Energy Star baseline consumption, while still taking into account any special considerations (primarily a credit for mechanical issues beyond the school’s control). The incentive maximums are $1,000 for elementary schools, $1,750 for middle schools, and $2,500 for high schools.
Schools that paid penalty amounts for energy conservation include: Adams M.S., Bay Crest, Bowers-Whitely, Broward, Clark, Crestwood, Desoto, Gorrie, Ippolito, Just Full Service Center, Kenly, Kimbell, Limona, Mango, McDonald, Mitchell, Morgan Woods, Oak Park, Pizzo, Robles, Schmidt, Sheehy, Sligh, Stewart, Symmes, Tampa Bay Blvd. Elementary, Twin Lakes, Walker, Washington, and Webb Middle School.
At a time when Hillsborough County School leaders are being asked to crunch the budget, district energy experts say even the smallest efforts help. This includes things like keeping classroom doors shut, windows closed and lights in the buildings turned off after hours.
"Every dollar that we save translates into more teachers, more jobs and more books," said William Robertson, Supervisor of Energy Efficiency for Hillsborough County Schools. "That's what we're after."
Overall, the school district has saved more than $1.49M in total energy costs in 2015-2016, school district leaders said.
The district is currently running on a four-day (10-hour days) work week during summer months, with the savings being realized at the start and close of each school year. This change helped to decrease runtimes of HVAC and lighting, thereby decreasing energy consumption and costs in June, July and August, school district leaders said.