EPA Gives District 86 Schools a Green Star
Both Hinsdale South and Hinsdale Central have received the EPA's Energy Star label for efficiency.
The schools are two of only 48 primary and secondary schools in Illinois to earn the Energy Star label, according to a district release. The EPA awards the designation to buildings that submit data that show they follow energy-efficient practices.
Both schools tracked their electric, natural gas and water usage through a third-party software system, according to the release. A third-party engineer verified the data.
Buildings receive the Energy Star label by rating 75 or higher on the EPA’s 100-point scale. Hinsdale South in Darien rated 94, which means it is more energy efficient than 94 percent of similar buildings nationwide, according to the EPA. Hinsdale Central in Hinsdale scored 96. The two schools are the only buildings in their respective towns to have obtained the Energy Star seal.
One of the main ways the schools have lowered their energy use is by reducing the amount of power used when the buildings are empty, Superintendant Nicholas Wahl said.
“We make sure we’re not overheating areas and make sure we’re not cooling areas that are not occupied,” he said.
The district works with Energy Education to find ways to reduce power consumption, Wahl said. Energy Education is a national consulting firm that helps schools figure out ways to conserve energy. Wahl said he did not have exact figures as to how much District 86 has saved on utilities since it started its relationship with the firm.
During Monday night’s District 86 School Board meeting, board member Dianne Barrett questioned whether Energy Education’s $10,000 a month price tag made the relationship worthwhile.
“Our savings [on energy costs] have exceeded the expenditures,” Wahl said. Additionally, Energy Education does not make recommendations that involve buying any equipment but rather suggests changes in behavior that will result in lower utility use, he said.
In the near future, the district plans to do a report about what it has accomplished through its work with Energy Education, Wahl said.
District 86 partnered with the EPA on the Energy Star program about a year ago, Wahl said. Through the program, the district works with the EPA to improve efficiency in its facilities.
“We’re very interested in sending the message to be a good steward of resources and let the community and students know that we take this use of energy seriously,” Wahl said.
As part of getting the Energy Star label, each school will receive a plaque, as well as a certificate of achievement.