From HVAC system upgrades and lighting improvements, to water conservation projects and in-house machine repair, being good stewards of resources is a long-standing tradition at Hockinson School District. As Michelle Scott, District Director of Business Services puts it, “we’ve always found ways to save.”
Now, thanks to a partnership with Clark Public Utilities, the District has embarked on a new effort to save by participating in an energy conservation program known as Strategic Energy Management (SEM). The program, according to Bill Hibbs, Accounts Manager at Clark PUD, is designed to identify no-cost and low-cost opportunities to conserve through a detailed scan of a building’s energy landscape and making smart, calculated adjustments.
“Typically, the biggest opportunities to save energy come from making changes to building controls,” explained Hibbs. “Most schools have a user interface with different temperature sensors and air pressure sensors. Based on feedback from those sensors, the building is controlled with scheduling; the HVAC system starts up at a certain time and shuts down at a certain time – it’s the same thing for lighting. Once we sort through those controls and other information received during the scan, we can suggest changes.”
Some changes, Hibbs noted, will take a lot of effort and result in minimal savings. Others, he said, won’t take much effort at all. The District has assembled a team of staff members to go through the different suggestions and prioritize them.
“There are a lot of facets to strategic energy management,” added Scott. “Capital investments help with long-term returns, but we don’t have the resources to make those investments right now. With that in mind, our focus is on the little things we can do to make big changes that don’t take a lot of time or investment.”
While it’s difficult to forecast exactly how much the District will save through Strategic Energy Management, Hibbs said that conservation and efficiency efforts like these ultimate save the community a lot of money.
“Even with all the new people moving to Clark County, our load growth has remained the same over the past five years because we’ve been offsetting that growth with energy efficiency,” he said. “That’s really a testament to the projects and efforts like what you see the folks at Hockinson School District doing. If we had to build additional infrastructure, like a transmission station or a substation, that’s a big cost to the community.
“It’s really great work, what they’ve done and are doing in Hockinson,” added Hibbs. “I’m really excited and look forward to seeing what they accomplish. I think there’s big savings ahead.”