By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca Unified saves $2.2M on energy bills
Placeholder Image
In a period of 19 months, the Manteca Unified School District has saved more than $2,202,592 by religiously implementing an energy conservation program.

That accomplishment has resulted in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placing the district in the top 25 percent of energy-efficient school buildings nationwide. Manteca Unified is one of only two school districts in the county to be so recognized. As a sign of that distinct achievement, all 32 schools in Manteca Unified including the district office are receiving the Energy Star Label from the EPA.

“Energy Star is the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency,” explained energy education specialists Victoria Brunn and Kimberly Wright during the special award presentations held before the school board meeting Tuesday night.

The two were dubbed “energy czars” by Superintendent Jason Messer.

The $2M-plus savings in energy bills during the 19-month period was equal to a 31 percent reduction in energy consumption by the district. It’s a savings that the district expects to grow as it further refines its energy-conservation program.

The more than $2 million in energy savings realized was not achieved by any special gizmos that needed to be purchased or by expensive computerized mechanisms.

Quite simply, “We managed the systems that we had,” Wright explained.

That was accomplished, in part, by “shifting activities” at the different campuses so that facilities were used outside of the peak hours of PG&E energy use which is from noon to 6 p.m., Brunn additionally explained.

“We made sure that custodians, athletic directors and other facility users were aware of that,” she added.

It was simply a matter of “behavior management,” said Wright of the energy conservation effort that went into the program. “This is something that requires a daily effort, but they were able to do it.”

“Everyone worked together as a team,” Brunn said.

As part of the energy-conservation program with Energy Education, Brunn and Wright keep track of every aspect of utility consumed district-wide – electricity, water, sewer, natural gas and fuel oil, among other things – with the help of energy-accounting software.

Brunn and Wright then “compare current energy use to a baseline period and calculate the amount of energy that would have been used had conservation and management practices not been implemented,” according to the statement released by the district. “By tracking the consumption and analyzing energy use, they can quickly identify and correct areas that need immediate attention.”

Part of Tuesday night’s recognition ceremonies included the presentation of certificates of appreciation to the key staff members who were instrumental in helping the school district achieve its energy-saving goal which resulted in the nationwide recognition.

The energy-saving program being utilized by the school district is Energy Education’s “people-based energy consumption.” This new and radical approach to reducing use of energy focuses on “changing human behavior, because people, not buildings, use energy,” explains Energy Education on its web site.

It adds that since the program “focuses exclusively on organizational and behavioral change,” net savings are realized in a matter of months and not years. Furthermore, the program does not require any new equipment, or money to be budgeted. And since the program only requires changing habits, “savings are sustainable over decades.”