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Facing soaring energy prices, Fort Worth ISD cuts energy use 26 percent, earning Department of Energy kudos

July 6, 2022
As energy costs skyrocket and temperatures rise, no one feels the heat more than school districts across the U.S. — but Fort Worth ISD has a solution in place. The district has cut energy use by 26 percent, and recently received US. Department of Energy recognition.

“We know the more efficient we can be operationally, the more we can make sure assets go to our core business, which is taking care of kids in the classroom and attracting and retaining the best teachers,” said Dr. Joe Coburn, COO of Fort Worth Independent School District. “In our current economic climate, looking at ways to save on energy costs is one of the most significant things we can do to maintain levels of service.”

With more than 74,000 students in 81 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, 21 high schools and 17 special campuses, Fort Worth ISD is making the grade in transformative efforts, including energy conservation.

Fort Worth ISD was recently named by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Better Buildings Challenge Goal Achiever, a prestigious award that recognizes the top organizations who are leading the way in energy efficiency goals. The school district met and exceeded its 20% portfolio-wide energy reduction goal and also has earned a total of 295 ENERGY STAR building certifications.

To help meet its energy conservation goals, the school district partnered with Cenergistic, the pioneer and leading provider of technology-enabled energy conservation services. Since 2016, FWISD personnel have worked closely with Cenergistic engineers, experts and energy specialists to audit and optimize energy-using systems across the organization to achieve peak efficiency. Energy specialists track energy consumption at all campuses through state-of-the-art smart technology to identify and correct areas that need immediate attention.

“It’s a huge benefit to correct things in real time, and we’re able to do that with the help of the Cenergistic technology platform and energy specialists,” said Dr. Coburn. “The result is a classroom environment that’s always comfortable and conducive to learning and significant cost savings that help free up funds so we can redirect them to important student needs.”

The energy conservation program delivers financial savings as well as an environmental benefit from reduced carbon footprint. Since 2016, the district cut energy use by 26%, saving more than 18 million dollars in expected energy costs and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 132,614 metric tons. According to EPA/EGrid figures, Fort Worth ISD has prevented carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 333 million miles not driven or more than 2.1 million pine trees grown for 10 years.

This savings has a tremendous impact, considering that K-12 schools represent the nation’s second largest sector of public infrastructure spending, after roads and highways. Increasing energy efficiency in the nation’s K-12 schools by 20% would yield at least $1.5 billion in annual cost savings, according to a Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

With current market volatility and uncertain resources, Dr. Coburn says it’s important the district finds efficiencies where they can.

“Unlike what businesses are doing now, we can’t raise our prices, we can’t increase production, we can’t pass our additional costs on to our customers because that’s not how school districts operate. So the more expensive things get, the more important it is for us to be efficient to maintain levels of service,” said Dr. Coburn.

FWISD continues to look at ways to drive cost efficiencies. With a district that covers more than 150 square miles, Fort Worth ISD has plans in place to reduce fuel costs for both school buses and maintenance vehicles. By changing the way they route school buses, the district has eliminated the need for 65 buses from their fleet for next year and also is making sure maintenance vehicles take the most efficient route to service calls. The district also has installed more than 800 Wi-Fi thermostats to help meet its energy efficiency goals.

“Energy-related costs are the second largest budget line-item for school districts, making it critical to optimize energy performance,” said Dr. William S. Spears, founder and CEO of Cenergistic. “It’s our goal to help our partners manage these costs and create healthier, more efficient buildings so that schools can use the savings where they need it most.”

About Fort Worth Independent School District

With more than 74,000 students in 81 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, 21 high schools and 17 other campuses, Fort Worth Independent School District enjoys a diverse student population and strong community partnerships. Under the leadership of the superintendent and the Board of Education, the District is undergoing a series of initiatives that will redesign, transform and revitalize Fort Worth ISD Schools and bring the district closer to realizing their mission of preparing all students for success in college, career and community leadership.

About Cenergistic

Since 1986 Cenergistic has partnered with 1,500+ educational, local government, healthcare and faith-based organizations to achieve $6.4 billion in utility savings. These strong results come from the application of Cenergistic’s science-based strategies and are enhanced by our patented Cenergistic Optimize software platform to drive building and equipment optimization. Our energy conservation program reduces utility consumption by an average of 24% with no capital investment while maintaining or improving the comfort and quality of building environments. For 14 consecutive years, Cenergistic has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year or Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence. To learn more, visit www.cenergistic.com.

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