Energy Saving Efforts Pay Off in Amarillo ISD

Energy Saving Efforts Pay Off in Amarillo ISD
Bivins Landscaping

November 7, 2014 – Amarillo ISD energy savings efforts are being noticed by companies like Xcel Energy and KB Recycling, but also felt in the community as more students bring their recycling and energy conservation skills home. Expanding to nearly every school and support office this school year, recycling is a priority. AISD staff are leading the initiative to educate students in the benefits of going green.

“We instill in our students the importance of recycling as a personal responsibility to our future generations and our planet,” Travis teacher Michaela Dodson explained. “It is funny, even if I accidentally throw something away, a student will say ‘You can recycle that!’ It has become second nature to staff and students. We also talk a lot in science about the human impact on our environment.”

Forty eight schools participated in paper recycling last year which totaled 322,298 pounds of paper. Tax payers are saved thousands of dollars on sanitation costs when cardboard and paper are diverted from the landfill to a recycling center, but AISD students understand it in a different way.

“We teach recycling in our basic intro, but over the years students know it as an expectation,” Dodson said. “The staff has taken me by surprise by how they are more than willing to tear up old books, recycle journals and more.”

“The staff and students did an awesome job this year with the recycling program,” Sherri Hooten, of AISD’s maintenance department, said. “This next year, all schools are recycling paper and cardbaord, as well as Maintenance and ESL support offices.”

AISD recently earned an $181,609.66 rebate from Xcel Energy for its energy saving efforts after completing the first phase of extensive upgrades on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at eight campuses and installation of efficient lighting at eight campuses. Two campuses, Caprock High School and Travis Middle School, received both HVAC and lighting upgrades.

These HVAC upgrades are part of School Bond 2013. The total project cost is $3,794,618 with the final two phases of the upgrades set for completion in the summers of 2015 and 2016. The upgrades will reduce the district’s annual energy usage by an estimated 712,175 kilowatt-hours.

AISD also feels a responsibility to take action and affect change in the amount of water consumed on campuses all around the city. Wes Green, operations manager for the district, says there are many efforts going on to protect water resources. One main approach is to use more responsible landscaping techniques. “When we have construction and new additions, our approach is to install new landscaping that follows the Xeriscaping concept.” Green goes on to explain the area’s terrain will be studied to learn more about its water usage. Plans for landscaping, including choosing plants which require less water and using better irrigation devices, will be made based on that information.

“In the past five to six years we have made a conscious effort to cut back on how much water we are using and we’ve reduced water consumption by 30 percent,” said Green. “We decided it was better to not keep the lawns lush but didn’t want to cut back so much we had dry lawns. We’re watering efficiently now to keep our lawns green and healthy.”

Landscaping is not the only method being utilized by the district to conserve water. Green explains the conservation efforts began four years ago when the department worked to establish a central control setup for all campus irrigation systems. Data such as wind speed, temperature, rainfall and hours of sunlight is sent to the central controller in the area, ensuring the district is watering responsibly. Additionally, subsoil irrigation systems, artificial grass, and/or hybrid Bermuda grass have been installed on several athletic fields at the middle and high schools.

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