Tahoma reduces energy consumption

Tahoma reduces energy consumption
Posted on 10/31/2018

Since the fall of 2014, Tahoma has reduced its energy use 17 percent with the help of its consultant firm, McKinstry. That equates to about 930 metric tons of carbon. The district has been partnering with the company for nine years, employing energy-saving techniques that have added up to about $1.5 million, McKinstry officials said.

 The efforts started in 2009; between the start date and 2013, the district racked up a 27 percent energy savings. In that year, the “baseline” of energy consumption was reset. Similarly, McKinstry and the district decided to do another reset last year because of the transition and changes districtwide. Last year’s energy usage will be the new standard to measure against, but because the buildings are already operating at very high efficiency, experts don’t expect to see much additional measurable change from this point out.

 “We actually continued to save energy as we built that new baseline,” said Lauren Frugé, operations manager for Energy Management with McKinstry. “The schools did really well. … As we start tracking energy performance this year, we do not expect to see a lot of savings because we’ve already captured that.”

 On the list of things that Tahoma is doing correctly and well:

  • Buildings are efficiently heated during the winter
  • Lights are only on when in use, whenever possible. Lights needed for safety are the exception.
  • Facilities staff are careful to make certain that systems are turned off during hours buildings are closed.
  • There has been adoption of clear energy guidelines across the district that define appropriate schedules and set points for temperatures. 
  • Green teams have been helpful in having students and staff take a pledge to raise awareness and doing student energy audits. They also help identify things that teachers can do, such as when to turn off lights. “Green teams are really instrumental in sharing the message, doing those student energy audits and keeping up the enthusiasm,” Frugé said.

Dawn Wakeley, executive director of Teaching & Learning and a member of the district Sustainability Committee, agreed that the Green Team contributions have been key. District and building leaders would like to have additional students join the Green Team at their respective buildings. It’s a challenging task to try to affect the ingrained behaviors of others, Wakeley noted.

 “It’s not always the most glamorous club that’s out there, but we are so appreciative to the students and staff for their enthusiasm and passion in helping do good work for our environment,” she said.

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