Mt. Morris school improvements, vigilance earn Energy Star awards for district

MT. MORRIS, Michigan – Four schools in the Mt. Morris district have been awarded the federal Energy Star rating. The rating is reserved for buildings which rank in the top 25 percent of energy-efficient facilities nationwide.

This month, Montague and Pinehurst elementary schools received Energy Star certification from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star office, along with EA Johnson High School and Mt. Morris Junior High, which were first certified last year.

“The board is very pleased that our buildings were given the Energy Star certification by the EPA. It has been one of the priorities of the board to conserve energy costs and put (savings) back into the classroom,” said John Schafsnitz, President of the Mt. Morris Board of Education. “We’re also grateful to the community for supporting our Sinking Fund endeavors to enact some of these cost saving measures for the district.”

Rich Fedchenko, who serves as Energy Manager for the district, credits school improvements and staff vigilance for the award. District energy needs were projected at more than $3 million this year, but thanks to energy-efficient improvements and careful practices, Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools saved more than $755,000 in expected costs.

Improvements through the Sinking Fund voters approved in 2011, such as energy-efficient lighting at Pinehurst Elementary, have contributed to savings. New boilers at Pinehurst and the Junior High, a new compressor at Montague, and new thermostats ─ set at 58 degrees during non-school hours during winter ─ also helped reduce costs.

Other Sinking Fund-paid projects, such as recently installed energy-efficient lighting in the upper and lower high school gymnasiums, are expected to save the district even more.

Staff efforts to cut energy costs have been “outstanding,” Fedchenko said. “You go into any classroom, student station or lab and everything’s shut down. We are saving $104,000 a year just by shutting down computers and monitors district-wide.”

Along with monetary savings, school improvements and vigilance are proving environmentally smart.

The environmental impact of the district’s efforts are equal to the energy saved if 754 district drivers chose to walk ─ instead of drive ─ for one year, according to Cenergistic, a software program used by the district to track energy use.

The district is constantly working to become even more energy-efficient. “It’s a marathon, not a 100-yard dash,” said Fedchenko. “We’re still working on it.”

Click here to view original article on MLive.