Minnesota school districts are Energy Star Leaders


The Environmental Protection Agency recognized 16 organizations as Energy Star Leaders this year, and eight of them were Minnesota school districts. Of the 51 organizations recognized since the Energy Star program was introduced in 1992 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, 14 have been Minnesota Schools.

To be an Energy Star Leader requires improving energy performance by 10% or more. Many of the districts accomplished this goal through participating in a program developed by Hallberg Engineering of White Bear Lake. Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE) program focuses on facility improvement as well as behavior modification to reduce energy waste, save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

Throughout Minnesota 17 school districts have participated or are currently participating in the SEE program, 13 of which have receiving Energy Star Leader recognition. The districts average annual energy savings of 12% and a combined $8 million in utility costs over three years. Eden Prairie Schools is the only district not participating in SEE to be recognized.

The following are Minnesota’s Energy Star Leader School Districts and their energy accomplishments:

* Austin Public Schools: The district has saved more than $142,000 on energy costs and prevented more than 2.3 million pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere since 2005.

* The Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District: In 2006 Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose earned the ENERGY STAR Leader award for elevating its average energy rating across its portfolio by 10 percent.

* Burnsville-Eagan Savage School District: The district has saved more than $410,000 by implementing low- and no-cost strategies and a program specifically designed for K-12 schools. The program helped the district improve energy efficiency by 13% during the 2005-2006 school year.

* Cambridge-Isanti Independent School District: The schools have saved more than $500,000 by using a combination of operational and awareness campaign strategies. The district changed all metal halides to high bay fluorescents in school gyms and all T12 bulbs to T8 bulbs in hallways and classrooms.

* Columbia Heights School District: By using low- and no-cost strategies and a comprehensive program specifically designed for K-12 schools Columbia Heights School district saved $47,591.

* Eden Prairie Schools: The district has reduced the cost of energy use to $0.58 per square foot, which is the lowest in the Minneapolis metropolitan area, and realized an energy cost avoidance of more than $1.3 million over the past 2 years. The district also reinvested nearly $100,000 from equipment rebates into automation and lighting upgrades.

* Mahtomedi Public Schools: The district has saved more than $240,000 by implementing low-cost strategies that reduce energy waste.

* North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District: North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Schools has assessed the performance of all of its facilities and made improvements such as replacing old boilers, steam traps, and windows. The school district has saved more than $697,000 since 2005.

* South Washington County School District: The district has saved $400,000 in energy costs, and schools in the district have averaged a 10 point improvement in energy efficiency, by reducing energy waste and energy-related expenses by using low and no-cost strategies such as reducing off-hours energy use and de-lamping school vending machines.

* St. Cloud Area School District: Initiatives have resulted in more than $750,000 in avoided energy costs over a three-year period, and have had a significant positive impact on the local environment. In three years, the St. Cloud Area School District reduced CO2 emissions by 12,891,167 pounds.

* St. Louis Park School District:The district saved $54,000 in utility costs over 11 months by adopting no- and low-cost strategies. In addition, the St. Louis Park School District showed its commitment to energy efficiency by adopting a district-wide energy policy in February 2006.

* Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS): As of 2007, SPPS has achieved a reduction in energy use of more than 10 percent compared to a 2003 baseline. This energy use reduction has provided SPPS with total avoided costs exceeding $1,000,000 for the District. Over the past two years, the District has reduced its overall energy consumption by 63,426 MMBtu and eliminated emissions of over 18,726,000 pounds of CO2.

* Stillwater Area Public Schools: The district has avoided $322,081.00 in costs over the past two years. The district’s goal is to focus on building long-term operational and behavioral changes to ensure sustainable reductions in energy use, utilizing the comprehensive approaches of the SEE program.

* West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Independent School District: The district has reduced its energy use by 15 percent and avoided about $113,000 in energy costs. When it earned ENERGY STAR Leaders recognition, it was the first school district in Minnesota recognized by EPA for district-wide improvement.