Energy efficiency pays off for school
The Associated Press, October 12, 2003
The Lafayette Daily Advertiser

HOUMA (AP) - Consistently closing blinds, changing lights and lowering thermostats have saved Terrebonne Parish schools even more than promised, says the contractor hired to cut energy costs.

Siemens Building Technologies, hired in 2000 to cut $388,400 a year from utility bills, says that the three-year savings add up to about $1.7 million.

Nearly every public school in the parish has reduced its monthly utility bill, according to new figures from the company.

During the 2002-03 school year, it said, Terrebonne saved $454,318 by following Siemens’ energy-saving strategies, such as unplugging machines and switching off lights when they’re not needed.

“This has worked extremely well for us,” said Superintendent Liz Scurto. “We’re very pleased with the results.”

Siemens said that improved lighting has saved about $290,000 a year in energy and $90,000 a year in maintenance.

In addition to maintaining air ducts, filters and pipes, locking some thermostats and making sure windows and doors stay shut when air conditioners are on, schools also have limited after-school activities to certain zones.

In Lafourche, public school officials also are pushing teachers to shut off lights when they leave and to turn down the air conditioning.

The school system has an informal energy plan but under the new superintendent, safety and maintenance managers hope to work with Entergy for a more structured conservation system, said spokesman Floyd Benoit.

The first year Terrebonne public schools and board offices used energy-saving measures, they saved a collective $825,667. Two years ago, savings totaled $479,228.

Those figures come after the School Board pays Siemens, an international company with New Orleans and Lafayette offices, $211,626.

Company consultants work with the maintenance department to determine the system’s energy needs.

Two years ago, their biggest challenges were at two elementary schools on opposite sides of the parish, Schriever and

Those were the only schools which had higher energy bills in 2001-02 than the previous year - up $2,337 at Pointe-aux-Chênes and $5,624 at Schriever.

Months of investigating found that none of the usual culprits, such as equipment, building usage or human factors, was to blame, consultant Matthew Ridley wrote. They finally learned that Entergy had replaced faulty electric meters at both schools.