The school board received a check from PSE for energy savings and energy rebates on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

At the Nov. 20 school board meeting, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) presented the board with a $563,392 check. The check was in recognition of the district’s energy efficiency achievements. Since 2008, Bellingham Public Schools has participated in the Commercial Strategic Energy Management (CSEM) program to create more energy efficient schools and facilities.

“The school district has pursued projects and improved operations to save 4,131,031 kWh totaling $416,532 in annual utility cost savings and earning $146,860 in energy efficiency grants from PSE for a total of $563,392 benefit,” said Pinky Vargas, senior business account manager at PSE.

Vargas explained that it can be hard to comprehend these figures, but to put it into perspective that is equivalent to powering 350 homes for a year.

“This level of conservation could not be accomplished without the dedication of Mike Anderson and his maintenance staff. Thank you Bellingham Public Schools for consistently demonstrating leadership in the energy space!”

These energy savings were accomplished in many ways, including the installation of over 600 LED fixtures at five schools, and the replacement of many old and inefficient gas furnaces and water heaters during the 2018-19 school year.

“I view energy savings as another part of our work maintaining the district infrastructure,” Mike Anderson, director of buildings and grounds said. “We’ve made it an everyday task, so that as we change out classroom lights, for instance, we switch an entire classroom to LED and when we replace water heaters or other pieces of equipment. We look for opportunities to reduce energy use and cost.  When we program control systems, we do it with an eye on best practices for lowest energy use. It’s an honor to be part of a process that gives us freedom to make those kinds of decisions.”

The impact of these funds is far greater than the monetary value, Deputy Superintendent Mike Copland said. “It helps to support great teaching and learning throughout the district.”

“Money we saved starting in 2008 went toward funding full-day kindergarten mid-year at Title 1 schools. That was seed money for early childhood education, which has evolved into a deliberate investment and strong commitment to support our youngest learners,” said Superintendent Greg Baker.

For more information about energy efficiency in Bellingham Public Schools, please click here to read The Monitoring Report for EL-9, Asset Maintenance and Protection which includes energy use and resource conservation methods. The report was submitted to the school board at the Nov. 20 meeting.

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