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Discovery first in North Alabama for Energy Star cert

MADISON – Discovery Middle School is the first school in North Alabama to attain Energy Star Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

Seven other campuses in Madison City Schools have qualified and expect an award of certification soon, according to state officials.

At the certification ceremony, Elizabeth Cochran commended the school and district for energy savings that free funds for other school needs. Cochran is Energy Division Program Manager with Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs or ADECA.

Referencing the “North Star” as a guiding beacon, Cochran said, “(Madison City Schools) looks to be that shining star” for other school districts to copy in energy efficiency. “You’re the first. You’ve gone out and done what others can do.”

ADECA’s Energy Division is pleased to assist the efforts of local leaders to save more than $100,000 in just one year through energy efficiency. We congratulate Madison City Schools for becoming the first in North Alabama to earn Energy Star certification for school facilities,” Cochran said.

Madison schools achieved a $130,000 savings in energy costs between FY 2015 and FY 2016. Savings in electricity, gas and water will continue to escalate as more schools improve their energy efficiency.

MCS Superintendent Robby Parker said those savings can pay for additional teacher units, technology and other classroom resources.

Most of the savings resulted from a massive switchover to LED lighting, motion-activated switches and behavior modification among students and school staff. Turning off unused equipment is important. One laptop, for example, can burn almost $5 of power each year by remaining on overnight.

“Multiply that by thousands and the costs pile up,” former Discovery Principal Eric Terrell said. “The staff and students have done a great job being energy conscience, like turning out lights and reporting running faucets and toilets.”

Parker commended Madison Board of Education for steps that allowed the district to earn the coveted Energy Star rating. The board approved approximately $500,000 in 2015 to replace bulbs and many lighting fixtures with more energy-efficient ones.

A $100,000 TVA energy incentive rebate helped offset that expenditure. Discovery alone saved $40,000 in utility cost over the past year, an 18.4 percent drop.

“As things get tighter and tighter, we have to look for ways to cut money and energy consumption is one area. These cost reductions are even more phenomenal coming at a time of rapid enrollment growth and increasing demand on facilities,” Parker said.

The Energy Star rating starts with a portfolio to create benchmarks for monthly usage of electricity, gas and water. ADECA’s energy program helps clients implement energy conservation measures, and Avion Solution verifies compliance.

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