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Three schools in BCSD Energy Star certified

"With the complexity of our operation, it's not just one thing that's going to save us a lot of money," Nolte said. "It's a little bit here and a little bit there."

BC also joined a BOCES consortium of school districts that competitively bid for energy. That's resulted in low, fixed utility rates that allow administrators to more effectively budget for the future.

A new districtwide monitoring system is also helping officials eliminate waste. The computer program can monitor temperatures in every room and hallway in the district, as well as check in on ventilators, boilers and air conditioning units. If there's a problem, administrators will catch it faster with the new system.

"The control has helped us with our conservation," Nolte said. "We're trying to be a little more proactive than reactive."

Along those lines, the district has for the past several years retained an energy manager, who conducts energy audits and after-hour walkthroughs of the buildings. That attention to detail has resulted in some startling discoveries, said Nolte, including a ventilation unit stuck to "on" that was literally blowing heat out of an elementary school.

High school science teacher Paul O'Reilly is filling the energy manager position, but in the 2010-11 school budget the stipend for that position is partially de-funded. With the wheels already turning on many of the district's energy saving initiatives, though, Nolte thinks the district can keep reducing its usage through education of staff and the student body.

"You can't just have one guy or gal doing this. It has to be everybody," he said.

Beyond education, there still remains work to be done. The district will be embarking on a project to replace more light fixtures with energy efficient models and exploring a New York Power Authority project aimed at putting up large solar panel installations across the state.

BC will also pursue Energy Star ratings at its other buildings, with the eventual goal of having all schools certified. For information on the Energy Star program for buildings, visit www.energystar.gov.""

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