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Three schools in BCSD Energy Star certified

BC says efficiencies have saved $1.5M in utility payments

The Energy Star logo. Most are accustomed to finding this label of efficiency on washers, refrigerators and computers, but how about on schools?

Three schools in the Bethlehem Central School District will sport the emblem of the EPA-run program after placing in the top 25 percent most efficient of like buildings nationwide, a development school officials credit to initiatives pushed during the past eight years.

The Energy Star analysis shows the high school is performing in the 92nd percentile for energy use when compared to other, similar high schools. The middle school stands in the 76th percentile, and Elsmere in the 75th.

Since the high school and middle school combined account for a full 70 percent of the district's energy usage, high efficiencies at these buildings translate into big cost savings for the district.

District officials say since launching an energy efficiency initiative in 2002, the district has avoided a cumulative $1.5 million in utility payments. The coming year's school budget estimates $1.47 million in energy costs.

That's a welcome incentive to the district, especially as administrators deal with costs they have little control over, such as rising health insurance costs.

With school budgets being so tight and the planet in peril, it makes sense that energy efficiency is an area of focus for the district, Superintendent Michael Tebbano said. "This designation shows that our work is paying dividends that we will see year after year."

Those savings came from a lot of locations, said Gregg Nolte, director of facilities and operations. A massive capital improvements referendum approved in 2003 has placed more efficient boilers and air conditioning in many buildings, but smaller initiatives like making sure lights and computers are turned off at the end of the day have a cumulative effect.

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