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I.F. School District Saves Millions In Energy Costs

Idaho Falls School District 91 is $3 million richer thanks to energy savings over the past 5-and-a-half years.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, the district received awards from Energy Education, Inc., or EEI, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

District director of operations, Dana Wood, said doing the little things is part of the culture now.

Applause rang out as an EEI representative handed out the ‘Pacesetter’ award.

“This is an award we give to districts that set the pace, just as the name says, for energy reduction,” said EEI energy consultant Dan Kropp.

The award means District 91 has above average results: 36 percent in savings, which translates to more than $3 million over the past 5 years.

“Dollars that used to go to utility companies, go back to the district,” said Kropp.

District 91 implemented the conservation program in 2006.

Wood attributes the $600,000 per year savings largely to the faculty, staff, and especially custodians, who’ve all become diligent about turning off lights and computers.

“We see the biggest savings on weekends and holidays (and) summer shut-downs,” said Wood.

But it’s more than just flipping a few switches. Mechanical upgrades to more efficient systems have been a huge help. Wood said an example is a new heater at Eagle Rock Junior High.

“Instead of heating water with electric boilers, we’re pulling water out of the ground, pulling energy out of the water and putting that heat into classrooms,” said Wood.

The district also took advantage of a state program that paid to retro-fit lights in a dozen school buildings. That’s expected to save up to $63,000 a year.

“I liken it to swimming upstream in a lazy river. If you keep swimming, you keep making progress,” said Wood. “if you quit swimming, you quit making progress.”

Leaders said it takes the efforts of the entire district to achieve such a remarkable result.

Savings went toward the district’s general fund. With tight budgets everywhere these days, that’s $3 million less in cuts.

The Jefferson County school district was recognized in December for saving nearly $300,000 in energy over a 20 month period.

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