Every year, we increase our demand for environmentally friendly practices. More and more organizations and businesses are examining their current practices; they’re looking for ways to either decrease their environmental impact or eliminate it entirely. From choosing only new-growth lumber suppliers to energy efficiency in the offices, every effort a company takes to be environmentally responsible is another positive point in the eyes of the customers and industry as a whole. Some big names like Whole Foods have built a powerful reputation; much of their customer base is due to their central premise of environmentally responsible policies.
But environmental policies have a lot more to offer than good PR. One of the major reasons so many organizations have taken an environmental approach to management: ‘green’ thinking is naturally conservative. When trying to waste less, you think about making the most of every resource your company spends money on. By trying to reduce your school’s environmental impact, you find yourself looking for more cost-effective ways to achieve what the school may have been doing on automatic for years.
Most schools and businesses are familiar with ways to achieve energy efficiency. This has been the major focus of environmentally friendly talk for both residential and public buildings. Today we’re going to go beyond the power bill; we’ll take a look at many other ways to lower your school’s overhead with environmentally friendly practices.
Consider the amount of trash that your school hauls out every week. Does your school pay for trash disposal by weight? Are you regularly over-filling your dumpster with paper and disposables? Environmentally responsible practices can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce and the cost of dealing with it. Splitting your trash between waste and recycle is only the beginning. But actually thinking about minimizing the use of disposable packaging and making use of things that might normally be thrown away can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Methods to reduce your waste can often also double as saving money on office supplies. If, for instance, you are constantly throwing away or recycling cardboard boxes, consider looking into sturdy reusable plastic bins instead. You could even develop a box-trading system with vendors and partners also interested in environmental policies.
What about when the printer makes a mistake or prints that extra mostly-blank page? Keep a stack of one-side-used printer paper for scratch paper and temporary printing tasks.
The attitude you take when choosing your school landscaping significantly influences not only the cost of the initial design implementation but the upkeep throughout the year as well. Some organizations take the opinion that appearance is everything as long as the planting phase isn’t overly expensive. However, importing plants that are better suited to other climates will need more watering, tending, and protecting from non-ideal weather. Organizations are much more likely to consider the value of regionally native plants which thrive in local soil and climate; especially when thinking ‘environmentally friendly’.
Another consideration is that trees, bushes, and flowers can all be beautiful and oxygen producing without the hassle and expense of maintaining a lush green lawn that nobody walks on. You can still have beautiful landscaping with colored gravel or wood chips over the expenses; gravel doesn’t need to be watered, fertilized, and discourages insect activity.
One benefit that few companies see coming when they implement recycling, conservation, and more creative green policies is how much the employees love it. Everyone likes to work toward a purpose and going green adds purpose to almost every activity throughout the day. Even cleaning up after lunch is more purposeful because it feels good to remember to recycle, or choose meals that don’t include disposable packaging. Working together and thinking of new ways to save power, water, paper, or reuse things that would have been thrown away is fun and adds a new dynamic to the everyday office routine.
By making environmental responsibility your new policy and getting everyone involved in the effort, you will likely notice an increase in mood, productivity, and cooperation. If you want to enhance this increased morale, bring a few green plants into the office as well. The additional oxygen and mood-lifting benefit of plant life will continue to improve the morale benefits of green policies.
There are a number of federal and state tax incentives available for taking on green practices. The best known is the available tax deduction for the costs of installing your own solar panels. Whatever size of solar installation suits your school and building, the government will refund you 30% of the cost in taxes. If you happen to have the opportunity to invest in geothermal, you can get a 10% tax deduction for these costs as well.
Reducing your school’s energy consumption by installing highly efficient new lights and appliances can also qualify for a tax credit. Providing that you achieve a 50% or greater reduction in energy costs, you may qualify for up to $1.80 per square foot of improved building space. Even if you achieve 16.666~% or greater, you can get a $0.60 deduction per square foot.[To be continued…]
For more ideas on how to optimize your commercial real estate and save money for your school, contact us today!
Energy Optimizers, USA, LLC specializes in developing, engineering, and implementing energy efficiency and energy savings projects for educational, governmental and commercial customers. Our goal is to reduce our clients’ costs while saving the environment.
Energy Optimizers, USA emphasizes ethics, honesty, customer service, and education with its associates, vendor partners, and customers. We are committed to providing our services in a professional, honest manner and to exceed the expectations of our customers.
Our Project Development team is looking to add a full-time Energy Engineer to join our fast-paced company. Our new office in downtown Dayton is easily accessible and our unique team culture provides a positive and rewarding growth opportunity for all associates.
Please email your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
Energy Optimizers, USA
632 E. First Street
Dayton, OH 45402
For many school districts, the monthly energy bill is an ongoing source of stress. Funds are tight everywhere, and every dollar spent on energy is one that can’t be spent elsewhere. Are you trying to reduce energy costs throughout your school? If so, there are several strategies that you can use to make it easier.
Installing smart light switches in every room in the school may seem like a major investment; it’s one which will quickly pay off over time, however. Think about it: students and teachers often fail to turn off the lights when they leave the room, especially when they’re in bathrooms and other common areas. What about the gym or the cafeteria: are they fully lit even when there’s no one in the room? By installing smart lights with motion sensors, you can significantly reduce energy usage – and watch the bill come down with it. When people are in the room, talking and moving around, the lights stay on. On the other hand, if the sensors detect no motion for a period of time, the lights will turn off. And you’ll experience energy savings.
Like smart light switches, smart thermostats do involve an up-front investment. However, it’s one that can save quite a bit of money on energy costs over the coming years. With a smart thermostat, you can set the temperature for different times of the day. When there are people actively in the school, the temperature sits at a comfortable level that won’t have students shivering in winter or frying in summer. When no one is in the building, however, the temperature can increase or decrease, based on the season. You keep providing climate control, which means that the pipes won’t freeze during the cold winter months and it won’t take too long to heat things up or cool them down once students return to the building, but you don’t have to keep paying for climate control when there’s no one around to care, either.
Quick: how many of your teachers actually turn off their computers when they leave at the end of the school day? How many of them leave them on, citing long boot-up times and increased frustration as the most common reason? While one computer draining energy throughout the night, when the school isn’t open, probably won’t use that much energy, the hundreds of computers throughout your building probably do! Make sure that devices in the computer labs and individual teacher classrooms are turned off each night and over the weekend. Reward teachers who are able to keep up with this simple change to help encourage the behavior.
What light bulbs are you using throughout your classrooms and in your outside lights? What about the appliances in the school kitchens: when was the last time they were replaced? Technology is constantly improving – and one of those improvements is a drive to use less energy, which means that the appliance can operate at a lower level of expense. While you may not be able to replace all of your old or outdated technology immediately, you may be able to replace several of those pieces over time, creating a less wasteful environment.
If you really want to get your energy costs down, get your students involved! Encourage them to take an active role in decreasing energy use throughout the building, whether that means turning off the lights until you can get those smart switches installed or looking for ways to decrease energy use in their classrooms. Make it a challenge! Offer rewards or let students see how much their efforts have managed to decrease energy use. Their innovations and suggestions might surprise you.
If you want to decrease energy use throughout your school, it may be helpful to start with an energy audit that will help you assess potential drains on the energy in the building. Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn how we can help.
Solar power is one of the most exciting and promising technologies of our time. According to information released by the Solar Energy Industries Association, in 2017 alone, solar power produced 17 billion dollars for the American economy. With the solar market booming and the price of solar technology as low as ever, there is no better time to get on the solar energy bandwagon. Here we’ll take a look at a few ways you can take advantage of this compelling new technology.
Rooftop solar is becoming increasingly feasible for schools and businesses across the United States. There’s a reason why you see solar panels almost everywhere you go these days. It’s because solar technology is powerful and cost-effective. However, there are several things that you’ll need to consider before having solar panels installed. First, you need to consider how much shade your area gets. Solar panels will be useless if you have trees casting long shadows over your school.
Where you’re located in the country will also play a role. Whether or not solar energy is feasible for you will partially depend on the current electricity prices in your area. Don’t worry too much if you live in a cloudy area. Contrary to popular belief, you can still take advantage of solar power even if you aren’t in a sunny climate. Solar isn’t always the best option for everyone; speak with an expert to get the best possible advice on your unique situation.
While there are various ways to finance solar panels, one popular method is the power purchase agreement. Under a power purchase agreement, you buy the solar energy rather than the entire system. In other words, another company owns the panels on your roof and you purchase the energy that is collected from them. This is a good option if you’re wary about the initial investment of buying a solar power system.
One way to implement solar technology on a small scale is to install exterior lighting that runs off solar power. Think about how much sunlight your parking lots and outdoor areas get. If this energy could be harnessed and stored in exterior lighting such as streetlights, this could potentially help you save a large chunk of cash on the electricity bill. Luckily, such technologies exist! The beauty of exterior solar lighting is that you can take advantage of that extra solar energy that otherwise would have gone to waste. Not only will you be saving money with an energy efficient solution, but you’ll also make the property around your school safer for nighttime pedestrians.
It sounds like a trivial measure, but the truth is that when it comes to energy savings, every little bit helps. Many companies offer solar powered calculators, which can be a handy solution for students and staff, who won’t constantly have to replace batteries. You might also consider encouraging the use of solar chargers for devices such as laptops and cell phones. Having these types of gadgets can teach students about energy efficiency at an early age. In addition, it will make them appreciate the fact that their energy doesn’t just come from nowhere.
At Energy Optimizers, USA, we help school districts develop cost-effective and energy efficient solutions. To learn how we can help your school save money, please feel free to contact us. Our experts can help you determine the best energy efficiency solutions for your particular situation. By taking advantage of the many benefits of solar energy, not only can you save your school district money, but you’ll also be setting a good example to students and to the community at large.
The U.S. Department of Education today released the names of the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.
Across the country, 35 schools, 14 districts, and four postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “Pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education. A state education official is also being recognized for his efforts to advance school sustainability in the state of Minnesota.
“I want to congratulate this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School honorees,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “They have truly embraced the challenge to create healthy, safe, sustainable and efficient learning environments for students, faculty, and staff. Their innovative approaches to learning will help students prepare for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century.”
The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states. The selectees include 25 public schools – among them, three magnet schools and two charter schools – as well as 10 nonpublic schools. Thirty-six percent of the 2019 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 53 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.
One of our greatest accomplishments has been the implementation and sustainability of our Graham Middle School all-female “Energy Team”. This team was created due to the overwhelming vocational need of females in STEM careers.
The energy team has won multiple awards for their leadership and project implementations of green energy practices across the state and region. They have received grants from the Ohio Energy Project where they attended a week-long conference and built an energy bike to be used for education.
This team of sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade girls took their learning and developed lessons, for their peers and elementary students. They travel to the elementary and teach on energy conservation, green practices, and STEM careers to Kindergarten through 5th grade.
The team also plans and leads an energy education fair for their peers and the community each year to demonstrate and educate about green practices. This past year the team participated in the Dayton Area “Bring Your Green” Challenge. A yearlong challenge to earn points by participating in “Green” challenges, energy monitoring, and education. Graham Middle School won this competition for 2017 and collected more points than any other school or business in the region, beating out over 600 other facilities. http://drg3.org/bringyourgreen/leaderboard
The students won a prize of $3,000 and have already made plans to invest the money into more projects to become more “Green.”
Congratulations to the Energy Team of Graham Middle School!
Your school serves hundreds, potentially even thousands, of students and teachers every day. It takes a lot of energy to keep things running effectively. If your energy bills are getting out of control – or if you, like most schools, need to find new ways to cut some of your operating expenses so that you have more funds for other important things in your daily schedule – one great way to accomplish your goals is to have an energy audit. Does your school really need an energy audit? Check out these key signs.
Oh, you’ve conducted an energy audit in the past. You don’t really need to conduct another one now, do you? The reality is, energy technology is constantly changing. What was normal and accepted five years ago is no longer the standard; you may be able to save a substantial amount of money on your current energy bills by having another audit using today’s metrics.
From turning the lights out in the classroom when they leave to shutting down computers and other machines at the end of the day, many teachers fail to accomplish basic energy-saving measures on a regular basis. Typically, they know what they should be doing; the challenge is getting them to actually do it! Unfortunately, many teachers simply don’t want to hear from their colleagues – or even from the administration – that they need to make changes in their routine. Hearing from an official source, on the other hand, can make teachers more eager to take those key energy-saving measures.
How old is the energy technology in your school building? Do you have smart sensors on your light switches that turn off the lights in the room when people leave? What about your thermostat: are you heating and cooling the school when no one is in it, or is it programmed to reduce the temperature in winter or allow it to rise in summer when there’s no one in the building? If you’re struggling to get the funds for energy-related upgrades or you aren’t sure what upgrades will genuinely benefit your business, an energy audit can help you figure out what steps to take next.
Your school should use approximately the same amount of energy from year to year. While energy costs will vary by month based on the current outside temperature and the school’s needs, you should, overall, be able to budget your energy expenses over the course of the year. If you’ve recently noticed a jump in energy use, especially without corresponding rate increases from your electric company, there’s a good chance that there’s something draining that energy throughout the school. An energy audit can help reveal the culprit and determine whether or not that energy use is really viable.
Most schools struggle with their budget at one point or another. Chances are your school, like others, doesn’t have enough funding for vital programs throughout the building. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, decreasing your energy bill can create a substantial difference in your budget.
Whether you have students actively doing a unit about protecting the earth or you’re just looking for more ways to help contribute to saving the environment, there are plenty of reasons for a school to go green. An energy audit can help reduce your energy footprint, which decreases energy costs and makes your school greener. Often, going green can help attract a different type of parent and student to your school; this may offer unexpected benefits in the future, too.
Do you need an energy audit to help determine where energy is going throughout your school? If so, contact us today to learn more about how we can conduct an energy audit, provide valuable advice, and put your school in a better position to take control of its energy bill.
DAYTON, Ohio, April 17, 2019 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Oak Hills Local School District, in partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA, will upgrade all interior lighting to LED systems for an expected savings of more than $32,000 annually.
Oak Hills Local Schools
The improvements will be made to the district’s nine school buildings, as well as the administrative and transportation offices. The new LEDs will offer up to 75 percent savings over the existing fluorescent technology. They will also last 3 to 4 times longer, which will help the district reduce long-term operations and maintenance costs.
In addition, LED lighting is easier on the eyes, which benefits students and staff alike. The quality of LED lighting is very close to natural daylight, and LEDs offer improved light distribution and lighting levels. The lighting is also free of the hum and flicker associated with fluorescents, making it an ideal system for special needs classrooms.
“At Oak Hills Local Schools, we take a very conservative approach to how we balance our operational needs against the expectations of our students, staff, and community,” said Jeff Brandt, Superintendent. “This project will enable us to save a tremendous amount of money on our utility bills, which we can redirect into the student programs and classroom activities that make us one of the top districts in the region. And we can do all of this without additional cost to our taxpayers.”
The district used the LED Lighting and Energy Savings Program through the Ohio Council of Educational Purchasing Consortia (OCEPC). This program enables the district to make these cost-cutting improvements at no additional expense to taxpayers while ensuring the best possible pricing.
The project will also enable the district to demonstrate leadership in energy conservation. The energy savings from the lighting upgrade will be equivalent to preserving 302 acres of trees or removing 198 cars from the road.
“We are proud to partner with Oak Hills Local Schools in making these relatively simple yet incredibly cost-effective turnkey improvements to the district’s lighting systems,” said Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA, founder. “The district will be in a position to use the energy and operational savings to fund classroom programs or additional capital improvements, all without cost to taxpayers. That’s what we call win-win for Oak Hills students and the community.”
Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on why choosing your own power supplier is an important step in optimizing your power bill. Last time we talked about escaping monopoly mentality of local utility companies, the ability to pick exactly the energy plan your facility needs, the benefit of working with a friendly team of energy pros, and of course the financial benefits of shopping around for the best prices and plans.
Join us again today as we pick up where we left off.
Of course, one of the best parts about a deregulated energy market is that there is finally competition. Competition is good for business, even service monoliths like electric power or natural gas. In a healthy economy competition keeps each business honest and striving for the patronage of local customers. While this may add some extra element of challenge for independent power suppliers, it always works out best for customers.
Because power suppliers are competing for your business, it’s in their best interests to focus on positive customer experiences. Unlike the regulated utilities who can do what they want and customers have to put up with it, independent power suppliers are far more likely to have agreeable prices, friendly customer service, and reliably transparent billing, precisely because they want you to stick around (and now that you have other options). In fact, competition has been known to even shape up the old utility infrastructure; forcing them to act more like a normal business with valued customers.
Some businesses build their company culture and their reputation around eco-friendly practices. Office recycling and using recycled products, collecting rainwater to water the grounds, and choosing to work with eco-friendly business partners. In many circles, this is called ‘going green’, though your business may have been green from the very start. Green customers and other green businesses prefer building a world where businesses and the environment can mutually support each other.
For green businesses, energy deregulation is a dream come true. With nothing but the utility company, the electricity your business needs will come from the local power plants. While these can be clean, they often burn fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, and petroleum variants. These are neither renewable nor is the process good for the environment.
With independent power suppliers, you have the opportunity to move away from local power plants; you can contract with a company which gets energy from entirely green sources. With solar panels and wind farms expanding, there’s bound to be several green options for your eco-friendly business.
Shopping for a good power supplier is a lot like choosing your insurance policies. You can find a provider you like and stick with them for years, enjoying the reliable and familiar interaction of paying your bill every month. Or you can bargain-hunt. Like insurance agencies, independent power suppliers are frequently offering special deals for new customers which feature lower prices, better rates, and appealing package options.
If your business tends to optimize costs by doing a little price-comparison on services when renewal-time comes round, don’t be shy to do the same for your energy needs! Even if you’re looking for a long-term power supplier, remember to keep an eye out for unique deals that meet the kind of plan you’re looking for at a good price or rate.
Finally, the greatest thing about having your choice of independent power suppliers is flexibility. With the utility company, you get the prices and plan-options you get, with very little room for changes inside the company itself. But once you start working with independent power suppliers, you will find them not only more receptive to your business needs; but you can also change power suppliers whenever you feel it would be a good move for the business.
Independent power suppliers give you far greater control over your energy needs, from scalable plans to renewable energy. We encourage you to exercise that control by seeking the right energy supplier for your business and keeping your eyes open for ways to improve your energy solution in the years to come. For more energy insights on how to optimize your power bills, contact us today!
Energy deregulation is one of the best things that’s ever happened to Ohio, and other states that have enacted it. When energy is regulated, only a few authorized suppliers are allowed to generate and sell energy. The power plants and providers allowed to participate are unified as the ‘local utility company’. In a regulated state, homes and businesses are required to buy their power from the local utility company at the currently listed prices and available plans. This has become the status-quo.
In our country, it is now normal to assume that you will be dealing with whatever utility company is available. But times are changing, and so are state-to-state policies. Approximately half the states have deregulated electricity, natural gas, or both; effectively opening the market for independent energy suppliers to begin offering a completely new experience: Choice in your utilities.
Not only does this free up your business or school from uniform utility company pricing, but choosing your own energy supplier is also the best way to get exactly the energy plan you need without paying for anything you don’t. Today, we’re here to take a look at eight of the leading reasons to take the time and carefully select exactly the right energy provider for each facility. Better prices is just the beginning.
Most adults know what it’s like to find an unpleasant surprise lurking in the power bill. Maybe you turned up the AC during a heat wave; maybe you threw an event but didn’t calculate for power costs. Or maybe your utility company just tacked on an additional and apparently completely arbitrary fee.
The biggest problem with a regulated utility company is that it has the monopoly. Unless you want to try and generate your own power, you need electricity from the power utility. No modern home or business can do without it. But to get the power, people in energy-regulated states simply have to pay whatever prices the power utility chooses to charge.
They can rack up demand charges, stack on pointless fees, or change your regular rates any time they want. And there is no room for dispute. If you don’t like the prices, you could always stop buying energy. Except that you can’t. That is the first and among the best great reasons to deregulate energy state-by-state and to look for businesses in a deregulated state to seek an independent energy provider.
Utility providers often offer a small selection of plans that they feel are appropriate for locals. There may be a fixed versus variable rate option, business vs residential, or you might even be able to pick a demand charge profile. But you only get to pick what the utility company chooses to offer. And of the plans available don’t suit your needs or budget, too bad.
In a deregulated state, independent energy suppliers drastically change the status-quo. Because they are not part of the greater state utility company and share neither power plants nor profits with the local utility company, independent energy suppliers have every reason to offer a unique selection of plans. And each new supplier may be offering a different and more appealing plan than the last.
When you are shopping for an independent energy provider, you finally have the freedom to choose an energy plan that works well for your business, not just the best of several bad options.
Another inconvenient side-effect of the utility company monopoly in regulated states is poor customer service. The problem is that a regulated utility company doesn’t have to win your business or keep customers happy. Because everyone needs electricity and they are the only local authorized providers.
You may have had some first-hand experience with utility company customer service. They may have an automated phone tree, a seldom-answered email address, or even friendly people on the phone who simply have no power to actually to actually do anything. The problem often continues even after a state deregulates because that is how the utility company has always done things.
But as a business, you need more than an energy supplier that sends power through your lines and a bill at the end of each month. With an independent energy provider, you have the opportunity to seek out a team of managers an customer service techs who you actually enjoy working with. Whether you’re updating your plan or reporting an outage, a great energy support team is now within your grasp.
We mentioned earlier that utility companies don’t have to explain their prices to anyone and take a brutal ‘Take it or leave it’ stance on whether or not you pay what they say you owe. Part of the major problem here, the reason so many people are dissatisfied by utility company services, is that there is no transparency. Maybe you get lucky and your local utility is consistent on charges and fees, but maybe not.
Utility company prices are whatever they say, and their process can be completely opaque because they have a captive clientele. Independent energy companies don’t have that freedom and, unlike regulated utility companies, they function like normal businesses. This means that customer satisfaction and transparency about charges is the best possible approach.
So when you switch from the old utility company to an independent energy supplier, expect to be pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices and transparent billing items. In fact, you might even choose base on what invoices look like and how transparent each design is for you.
Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article on the other four reasons why choosing your energy supplier is an important step for any business and school to make. For more energy insights and ideas on how to save money on running your facility, contact us today!