School Energy Initiative Saved County $100K

BERLIN — An energy efficiency incentive program saved roughly $100,000 across Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) last year.
The incentive program offered schools funding as a reward for reducing a building’s energy output. Of the 14 WCPS, 10 were able to reduce their energy usage enough to qualify for the incentives. Chief Financial Officer Vincent Tolbert briefed the Board of Education on the results of the program, which took place during the last school year, at the board’s August meeting.
“Overall we reduced energy over 870,000kwh … total savings were about $100,000 for the six-month timeframe and about  $52,000 of that is going back to the schools as financial incentives,” he said. “They’ll be able to use that money for instructional supplies for the classroom. So the money that would have been paid for energy is now being put back in the classroom for the kids.”
Of the 10 schools, Buckingham Elementary reduced energy usage by 7 percent, Worcester Technical High School by 8 percent, Pocomoke Elementary and Stephen Decatur Middle School both by 10 percent, Snow Hill High School by 11 percent, Stephen Decatur High School by 12 percent, Pocomoke Middle School by 13 percent, Snow Hill Middle and Cedar Chapel Special School both by 15 percent and Berlin Intermediate School (BIS) by 23-percent.
“We wanted to do our part at trying to be more efficient at what we do around here,” said Thomas Sites, principal for BIS.
The school tackled the energy reduction challenge “wholeheartedly,” according to Sites. A lot of the credit goes to former Head Custodian Paul Hudson, Sites continued.
“He really took the lead on it. I told him what we wanted to do and he really ran with it,” Sites said.
Most of the changes BIS made were small, he continued, but added up to a nearly quarter reduction in energy usage over six months.
This included keeping lights off in areas that were not in use and unplugging vending machines occasionally over the weekend.
“[Hudson] would have enough lights on for safety but we turned off as many as possible until 7:30 a.m. when students started arriving rather than having them on at 6 a.m. when everyone arrived,” said Sites.
Due to the success of the program, it will be ongoing and Sites expects BIS to at least meet their 23.5-percent savings again this year.