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City Schools Save Money On Electricity Bills

Three Baltimore City public schools saved more than $1,500 on electricity in two months in February and March as the result of a program of the city Office of Sustainability and the U.S. Green Building Council Maryland Chapter.

The chapter received a $24,750 grant from the office to demonstrate to students and school personnel how simple, no-cost conservation measures can reduce the schools’ electricity bills, says Geoff Stack, of Stack Coordination, an independent sustainability consultant and co-chair of the chapter’s Green Schools Committee.

The measures include turning off lights and air conditioners when not in use, shutting down computers and being aware of so-called “vampire” devices that still pull electricity even when they are “off.”

The sustainability office chose three sites for the program:  Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle; Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a middle school housed in a building on Franklin Street; and W. E. B. DuBois High School and Reginald F. Lewis High School, both of which are housed in the former Northern High School building.

The program will continue through June. Stack worked with volunteers to teach students energy-saving tips and held a workshop for teachers and administrators on doing an energy audit. He says the chapter hopes the lessons learned in the schools will be used at home, too.

Stack says that in a preliminary evaluation, overall energy usage decreased 3.5 percent in all three buildings for the months of February and March. Put another way, that represented a saving of $1,535 on their electricity bills.

According to Chris Parts, the Maryland Chapter board’s secretary and the board liaison to schools, the program is a partnership between the the U.S. Green Building Council and the Alliance to Save Energy, with the former using the Alliance's process, tools and curriculum. The chapter has been demonstrating the model to multiple school districts since 2008 and to the Baltimore City school system since 2010.

Parts, an architect who is a LEED-certified professional, says the chapter's goal is to develop a program that can be used across school systems in the state.

Sources: Geoff Stark, Chris Parts, U.S. Green Building Council Maryland Chapter
Writer: Barbara Pash
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