PASADENA, Texas — Two years after forming an energy conservation partnership with Cenergistic, a national sustainability company, Pasadena Independent School District (PISD) has cut energy consumption by a fourth and ensured students have healthier classrooms for the return to in-person learning.
Since the February 2019 kickoff, the partnership has prevented emissions equivalent to 79 million miles of automobile travel and decreased the average cost per square foot required to power district facilities from $1.54 at program initiation to $1.21 today.
Program success has resulted in PISD applying for ENERGY STAR® certification, a U.S. Department of Energy award reserved for only the most energy-efficient K-12 buildings across the country. Kevin Fornof, Associate Superintendent of Facilities and Construction at Pasadena ISD, believes multiple district schools could receive certification for their performance in 2020.
“The significant cuts to energy use we’ve generated across the district have made us more efficient users of taxpayer funds,” said Fornof. “Receiving national recognition of ENERGY STAR’s caliber would certify PISD as among the national leaders when it comes to sustainability, but there’s also a significant financial reward for conservation.”
To improve building operations and save costs, PISD personnel and the program’s Energy Specialist team act as energy watchdogs, working in tandem to audit and optimize energy-using systems across the organization to achieve peak efficiency. The Energy Specialists track energy consumption at all campuses with state-of-the-art technology to identify waste and drive conservation.
In response to COVID-related shutdowns, the Energy Specialist team gave special attention to improving air quality and supporting facilities teams to ensure students could return to healthier classrooms. Through thousands of facility audits, they provided a continuous presence throughout PISD schools, identifying hazards, optimizing equipment and helping implement CDC recommendations for reopening and continued operation.
“The Energy Specialist team has provided a major boost to our maintenance and operations departments,” said Tom Douglas, Director of Maintenance and Operations at PISD. “They’ve made themselves available to assist with any needs we may have and continue to find a balance between utility savings and comfort levels.”
“The secret to the partnership’s success has been the constant communication among all levels of the organization,” said Derek Thomas, who helms the four-man PISD Energy Specialist team. “We coordinate with district facilities teams, maintenance members, construction crews, contractors, kitchen staff, teachers, principals and high-level administrators, making a point to meet with key people multiple times a week.”
The Energy Specialists used to take advantage of face-to-face meetings with staff groups and critical stakeholders. Since March, the team has turned to manual reports and videoconferencing through Zoom to maintain consistent communication.
“From the onset of this partnership, we’ve enjoyed critical cooperation from every level of administration and the operations teams, even as all of us had to adapt to COVID,” said Jim Vogler, an Energy Specialist for PISD and a 14-year Cenergistic employee. “In my previous role with Cenergistic, I worked with over 100 school districts across the country. Pasadena has been by far one of the best to work with.”
About Pasadena ISD
The mission of Pasadena ISD, the gateway to unlimited opportunity for our culturally rich community, is to empower students to become accomplished, self-directed, collaborative, lifelong learners, who boldly contribute to an increasingly complex and evolving world by engaging them in positive relationships, rigorous curriculum, and innovative meaningful experiences.
Since 1986 Cenergistic has partnered with 1470+ educational, municipal government and healthcare organizations to achieve $5.8 billion in utility savings and cost avoidance. These strong results come from the application of Cenergistic’s organizational behavior-based strategies and are enhanced by our proprietary software platform to drive building and equipment optimization. Our energy conservation program reduces utility consumption by an average of 25% with no capital investment while maintaining or improving the comfort and quality of building environments. For more than a decade, 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.