The Long Beach Unified School District’s 84 schools have earned Energy Star Certification as part of a conservation effort that has saved $29.1 million since 2003.
The certification by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency is based upon an international standard for energy efficiency. Buildings that earn the Energy Star use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings nationwide.
The school district, California's third largest, began its concerted conservation efforts with the hiring of two energy managers and the establishment of policies and guidelines aimed at researching, measuring and reducing usage of electricity, gas and water.
The conservation effort has included stringent tracking of bills to spot anomalies and prevent waste, and site and meter audits with careful tracking via software. The school district corrected billing errors, modified behaviors through reminder notes to employees, calibrated equipment and time of use for optimal efficiency, and used new technology such as more efficient light bulbs and Internet-controlled energy management.
With 84 sites certified, LBUSD now boasts 30 percent of the Energy Star-certified schools in California, according to a staff report at a recent LBUSD Board of Education meeting.
“To have 84 schools recognized is absolutely amazing. Most school districts have a big celebration if one or two schools are recognized,” LBUSD’s Chief Business and Financial Officer James Novak told the school board.
Aside from saving money, the conservation effort has prevented the emission of nearly 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of not driving 11,000 cars for one year (avoiding 15,000 miles of driving per car). It would take 1.5 million trees about 10 years to eliminate that amount of CO2 from the atmosphere, according to the staff report.
Each newly certified school will receive a certificate to display proudly in the front office.