"In 2000 and 2001, we were paying $2.1 million in electric bills each year," says Joe Mike Akard, maintenance supervisor for Sullivan County Department of Education.
"Even though we've seen a 30 percent increase in utility costs since then, because of the energy upgrades our actual bill this year was $1.4 million, that's a savings of a million and a half a year."
Besides the yearly payback savings Sullivan County Schools now appreciates as a result of the upgrades in equipment and building materials, the school system has also adopted a comprehensive energy policy for furthering conservation efforts and savings.
"We have 6,000 computers system-wide, cutting off the computers when they aren't being used saves us $70,000 a year," Akard
Energy Systems Group
publishes a comprehensive report every three months to inform Sullivan County Schools
of the energy savings and if, for some reason, the projected savings is not met because of equipment malfunction or some other problem, Energy Systems Group
has to make up the difference, Akard
While Sullivan County Schools
has experienced tremendous rewards for the efforts to increase energy efficiency, there have been a few drawbacks and learning moments.
likes to inform others who are interested in making similar changes of the lessons Sullivan County has learned so they won't make the same mistakes.
During the course of the upgrades, the attic space in one of the schools was over-insulated causing a water line to freeze.
Because of over-insulating condensation would collect during cold weather and the moisture turned into black mold.
When black mold arrived on the scene, the Sullivan County Department of Education
decided to move the students to the Bristol Race Track until the mold could be cleaned up.
The students spent three months studying in the skyboxes at the racetrack.
After the experience with black mold, Sullivan County Schools
started mold testing for their schools and any school that needs mold testing, Akard
Another challenge for Sullivan County Schools
is upgrading its old coal-burning boilers with the most economic option possible.
"Twelve years ago, we had 13 schools that burned coal," Akard
"Now we only have two.
Schools has exchanged its coal-burning boilers for electric, gas or oil systems, but with constantly changing fuel costs, the new systems require some careful planning.
"With the oil systems we can go through 500 gallons a day and it's very expensive," Akard
"We've saved millions," Akard