Bethlehem Central School District talks energy

"In terms of energy, the benefits of the new heating systems and renovated buildings are pretty clear," O'Reilly said. "The district is using less energy, the buildings are better at retaining the heat and it is costing taxpayers less."

The updated heating systems, along with more energy efficient buildings, mean the district can better control the temperature and better control the areas where the heating system is in use, O'Reilly told board of education members. As an example he cited that district schools used 25 percent less energy in January 2008 compared with the prior January, even though both months had the same average daily mean temperature.

Gregg Nolte, director of operations and maintenance for the district, said the upgraded system brings a new level of control to the district.

"We installed a new energy-management control system, which cost $1.9 million," Nolte said. "We can control different zones of the schools and it's all run by computers where we can check 7,900 different points.

"This gives us much more control," he said.

Nolte said the district has been slowly implementing the new system over the past four years and that the Elsmere and Slingerlands schools are expected to be included as soon as the school finishes up its $93 million bond for capital construction.

"We are close to having it all complete," said Nolte.

Nolte said he sees three main areas in which to save energy: replacing older equipment, such as motors, boilers and lighting, with newer and more energy efficient equipment; buying cheaper energy, such as the entering the consortium; and to simply use less energy.

"That's part of our conservation efforts," Nolte said. "We're making great strides on working on all types of energy conservations measures. If we can avoid spending, all the better because we're in some tough, tough times right now."

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