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Florida: Polk County Schools Energy Efficient

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Ledger

By Julia Crouse

BARTOW -- Among Florida school districts, Polk County is the best example of economical energy efficiency.

Of the 67 school districts in the state, Polk ranked highest for conservation efforts, according to an annual energy analysis by the state's Department of Education.

Although electricity consumption in the growing district was up nine percent, its water consumption was down significantly, district official Bob Williams told School Board members Tuesday.

He estimates that the district saves itself at least $4 million each year in energy costs. Polk pays about $11 million annually for electricity, natural gas and water. The costs would be $15 million without its energy-saving efforts.

The DOE began calculating the energy consumption and conservation efforts of school districts about 12 years ago. Since then, Polk has always ranked in the top two or three large districts, Williams said.

But a few smaller districts had always beaten Polk for the most energy efficient, he said.

The rankings are based on each district's financial statement. The DOE analyzes the energy efficiency based on building square footage and per student.

In the first 10 years of the study, Polk saved a cumulative $43 million in energy costs.

In fact, if every school district paid as much attention to energy as Polk, the state could save $183 million per year, Williams said.

Williams attributes Polk's frugality to quick responses to plumbing problems, a successful, ongoing energy conservation campaign, adhering to water restrictions and building energy efficient classrooms.

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