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Texas: Small steps save Henderson ISD big bucks

Friday, August 18, 2006

Longview News-Journal (Texas)

By RACHEL PHELPS

It's the simple things that matter in life — and save big bucks in energy costs.

Henderson ISD has saved $3.4 million in energy costs during the past 11 years by consistently doing little things, such as turning out the lights and keeping doors closed.

Heading up the project is Mike Melton, a Henderson High School history teacher, who has a computer program that monitors and records energy usage within the district.

Cyndi Walker, Henderson ISD communications officer, said she has seen Melton go around and check the rooms, and if a door was left open or a computer left on, he would put a sticky note on the door as a reminder.

"It started out with just not wanting to get a sticky note on your door," Walker said. "It's been amazing how much it has added up."

Over the past 11 years, Henderson schools have saved 43 percent in energy costs with the program.

"Our basic philosophy is to try to prevent waste," Melton said. "We're working really hard to not waste and not make people uncomfortable at the same time."

Melton said the district's air conditioning is controlled by computer, but the bulk of the savings comes from things people do.

"We're asking people to turn things off when they're not using it. That's basically it," Melton said.

Although the program is simple, the results for Henderson ISD have been astounding, officials said. The 11-year savings amount to 43 percent, but the district saved 49 percent on energy costs last year alone.

"This outstanding achievement places Henderson ISD in a very elite group," William S. Spears, CEO and founder of Energy Education, said in a news release. Henderson has been partnering with Energy Education on the project.

"Fewer than 2 percent of our nation's school districts have ever achieved this high degree of efficiency in energy management and consumption," he said.

"What we're talking about here is taxpayers' money, and they appreciate us trying to prevent waste," Melton said.

He said the best part is the money saved can go toward other educational needs.



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