Amid times of teacher layoffs and school budget cuts, the district has saved itself over half a million dollars in energy costs through the past eight months alone.
Data collected in July showed that Shawnee Mission School District energy analyst Bruce Palmer helped save the district over $600,000 in water, heat and electricity costs. Over the summer, Palmer helped save the district another $100,000. This came from simply allowing unused buildings to reach 80 degrees before turning the AC on, instead of the previous summers 75 degree policy.
Palmer was hired in January to help the district become more energy efficient. His job is to track energy data, such as electricity usage, in every school in the district.
“I do reports and analyze the data I collect,” Palmer said. “After that I meet the principles and advisers and devise plans for the schools.”
This year, Palmer plans on turning his focus towards heating and cooling usage. Since summer ended, temperatures at every school have been set to 75 degrees. Palmer plans on seeing how this works, and will possibly change the standard depending on feedback from teachers and principals.
“Our goal is to create an environment that is great for teaching and learning,” Palmer said.
His main energy saving strategy from last year was for more limited use of lighting. Setback programs reminded teachers when to turn off lights, such as during lunch, recess or fire drills. By June, six months after Palmer was hired, district setback programs like this alone had saved the district over $60,000 from projected utilities costs.
For the near future, Palmer is looking into a new project called Daylight Harvesting that lowers or turns off artificial lights when there is enough sunlight. Daylight Harvesting is currently being tested at both Indian Woods and Mission Valley Middle School.