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How Loudoun County Public Schools Saved $64 Million on Utilities

Three years ago, I coordinated a reporting project for a number of public school systems that were using EnergyCAP software as a tracking tool for Cost Avoidance savings. It was not a rigorous scientific study, but we did gather some interesting demographics regarding school energy savings possibilities.

One of the most interesting was this:

The aggregated dataset demonstrated calendar-year Cost Avoidance savings of more than $103 million worked out to slightly more than $1,000,000 for each participating school district. That’s a lot of savings, and the program was scalable. That is, savings, expressed as a percentage of the total utility budget was remarkably consistent regardless of the size of the school district. That percentage was approaching 30 percent!

Now it’s important to keep in mind that all the participating school districts were, or had been, involved with the Cenergistic energy conservation program, which includes infrastructure optimization, active management, and organizational behavior science components. So there was a lot of support for the energy management program, and there were a lot of things going on. But the point remains that the savings were out there, and this program and this software helped achieve them.

In today’s blog, I’d like to highlight the energy savings potential revealed and, at least in part, unleashed by energy management software by highlighting the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) and their legacy of energy management.

Loudoun County Public School’s journey to legacy began with a partnership. In 1993, the County was approached by representatives of Energy Education, Inc. (now Cenergistic). The business proposition was unique for its time—there were virtually no upfront costs, and the Cenergistic program would pay for itself with utility expense reductions.

The school district would share utility savings with Cenergistic for four years. After the contract period was over, the district could continue energy-saving habits cultivated during the implementation, and all future savings would belong exclusively to the district and its stakeholders.

First, the LCPS had to establish a baseline of energy expenses, which they did in 1993-1994. At the close of fiscal year 1995 (the first full year with the Cenergistic program in place), the school district had demonstrated utility cost avoidance of $891,210—and cost savings of 28.9 percent, which is on par with the results I reported earlier.

The amazing thing about the Loudoun County program was its longevity. Once they got on the energy management bandwagon, they never got off, even when the Cenergistic program concluded.

LCPS program administrators like to point out that, “individuals who take up the mantle of being a champion for the program are always the most effective communication tools.” No matter what kind of technological advances may be in place, having real advocates who care, are disciplined, and model best practices throughout the school system is the best way to get the message out. The LCPS found those advocates and put them to work.

So how is the LCPS doing, more than two decades after they started? The school has earned “ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year” in 2010 and 2011, and the Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence Award for the last four years. Over the last 21 years, LCPS has saved over $64 million in expected utility costs—equivalent to hiring over 1,300 first year teachers or educating over 5,200 pupils for a year. In addition, 62 LCPS schools have earned the ENERGY STAR rating (representing over 70 percent of LCPS schools and 6.5 million square feet).

That, folks, is what a legacy looks like. If you’d like to find out more, read the Case Study!