Energy Detectives Save District Millions

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Energy detectives save district millions

Students on Clifty Creek Elementary School’s Green Team worked with Cummins employees to look for ways their school in Columbus, Ind. could reduce its energy consumption.

Two years into its partnership with Cummins’ employees, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (BCSC) in Columbus, Ind. accomplished what some thought impossible: produce major environmental benefits while saving money.

The school corporation worked with members of the Cummins Distribution Business Unit and students to significantly reduce energy waste. The project is now expected to save BCSC more than $7 million over the next 10 years.

“BCSC is an extremely capable community partner that recognizes the importance of energy management,” said Wes Wheeldon, a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma, the data-driven problem solving tool. He led the Cummins’ project team. “They were ready to make a difference and we were available to assist with data analysis and validating key inputs for a capable energy management program.”

Students have played a important role in the initiative.

“The most effective way for us to improve and sustain energy and environmental activities was to get students involved,” said Adam Ulrich, Principal of the Clifty Creek Elementary School where energy consumption was reduced 23 percent in the past year. “Our student based Green Team is now performing energy audits and promoting energy efficiency while also leading other key environmental efforts in recycling and planting. They have truly made a difference.”

Providing lighting, heating and water for the daily activities of more than 10,000 students in Bartholomew County is no small task. Classrooms, swimming pools, science labs and football fields are just some of the places where schools consume large amounts of energy.

The team looked at energy use in multiple buildings and interviewed local facility users for a more in-depth understanding. They identified areas with excessive power usage and proposed ideas for better managing those facilities.

Based off the partnership’s analysis, an energy efficiency proposal was made to the BCSC Board of Directors that included hiring a full-time energy manager to oversee the effort and the purchase of new, state-of-the-art energy software to more effectively implement improvements.

The school system’s Board of Directors approved the plan. In the end, the major selling point was the benefit to both students and the environment. In addition to the financial savings, more than 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas will be reduced over the next 10 years.

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