Goshen Local Schools Reduces Energy to Save Jobs

February 2012

During these tough economic times, as the state has slashed education budgets, most schools have to lay off staff just to survive. Goshen Local Schools LogoHowever, Goshen Local Schools implemented an impressive energy campaign to save not only $500,000 since 2008, but also the jobs of many hardworking educators, so that the administration can continue to focus on high-performance education for students, instead of trying to simply make ends meet.

Todd Shinkle, Treasurer of Goshen Local Schools, notes that when it started, the district wasn't trying to "go green." He explains, "We'd like to go in that direction, but what is most important is saving jobs and taxpayer dollars."

The program started after an energy-savings consulting firm, Four Seasons Environmental, Inc., approached Goshen Local Schools in 2008. "With the total support of the Board of Education, we decided to try it out and see what happened," says Todd.

Since then, Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. and Goshen Local Schools worked closely together to create an energy plan for the district and implement a number of energy-savings initiatives, such as replacing a failing chiller compressor with a new, high-efficiency frictionless technology, enhancing the DDC control system with a more efficient sequence of operations, and updating mercury light bulbs to T5 fluorescent bulbs, in addition to others.

The results have been staggering. "We used to budget about $70,000 for heating and cooling each month," says Todd. "We're now on course for about $35,000, so we've cut the energy spending nearly in half. It's really huge."

So far, the district has used its energy savings in a two-pronged approach: to save jobs and to reinvest in energy-reducing initiatives. Todd estimates that Goshen Local Schools has saved eight to nine jobs since instituting the energy program. Additionally, the district would also like to continue to maintain its savings so that it can continue its commitment to education.

"We're hoping that we can keep on for years and years and as technology changes, try to stay in front of the curve," says Todd. "Right now, we're as close to state-of-the-art technology as any of our peers in terms of the energy monitoring solution."

The administration already has plans in place to keep the momentum going. Ken Yockey, facilities performance engineer at Four Seasons Environmental, Inc., elaborates, "Goshen's energy policy has become a critical piece of the operating budget, so we'll be developing a master plan for energy that will help Goshen to meet and exceed its energy goals."This year's current goal is to shave $115,000 off of last year's energy usage. With four months left in the fiscal year, Goshen Local Schools has already saved more than $80,000, leaving only $35,000 to meet its goal.

In addition to the master energy plan, Todd explains that another future step is to get the next generation involved. "We're hoping to install visual monitors in the building to show students what we're doing each day so that they'll understand the importance and get excited," he says," maybe hit the lights as they walk out the door."

Todd notes that the energy reduction has required sacrifices from everyone in the district, but that the end result is worth it. "My hands might be a little cold at the end of the day, but there are teachers walking the halls because we didn't have to eliminate their jobs."