Thanks to Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Energy & Environment Team Administrators John Lord and Michael Barancewicz for submitting their energy efficiency success story. September 2016.
LCPS is the third largest school division in the Commonwealth of Virginia. LCPS serves more than 78,000 students in 89 facilities. Since 1993, LCPS has implemented an energy management program in partnership with Cenergistic. This partnership revolutionized how our district views, consumes and uses energy. The LCPS behavioral-focused energy conservation and efficiency program – THE LCPS ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT TEAM — is focused on changing behaviors to realize significant savings. Since 1993, LCPS has saved over $70 Million on energy costs, reduced CO2 emissions by over 352,000 metric tons, and kept dollars that may have otherwise been spent to pay unnecessarily high energy bills available to be spent for a much better purpose – teaching children. Due in part to the efforts of this team, LCPS won First Place in the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2011 Green Schools Challenge and has earned the EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for 2010 & 2011 as well as 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Awards.
Tell us more about your story:
The LCPS Energy & Environment Team uses both energy efficiency and energy conservation to accomplish the goal of ensuring efficient and effective stewardship of public resources through continually striving to reduce district energy use and cost without negatively impacting health and safety, the educational environment or productivity.
Energy Conservation is the ability to capitalize on behavioral practices which allow LCPS to simply use less energy with existing resources. The tools used include: ingenuity, resourcefulness, discipline, procedures, volunteerism, and all the things that make people great.
Energy Efficiency is the ability to capitalize on new technologies and equipment that will accomplish desired outcomes while using less energy. Giving people more efficient tools allows those who are already conserving to use less energy when energy needs to be expended.
By using both conservation and efficiency methods, the greatest possible success is achieved. However, our real strength is the team itself. At over 90,000 individuals, the LCPS Energy & Environment Team includes all students, staff, parents and other community members who make up the totality of individuals who utilize LCPS sites. By having everyone take part, an empowering alliance in the school system has been created that keeps energy costs within our control.
What was the problem or opportunity you identified?
LCPS had a need for additional funds to use in the classroom and those funds were not forthcoming through “traditional” means. The LCPS Energy & Environment Team has been a consistent success in focusing the expenditure of taxpayer dollars on instruction.
How has this impacted your clients/constituents/
LCPS has saved enough money on energy to buy a new middle school.
The ENERGY STAR program thought the LCPS success story was worthy of nationwide promotion and ran the ad at right in Fortune Magazine in 2013. Ultimately, students benefit and that is what LCPS does – through our example, we are teaching the value of both economic and environmental stewardship.
What challenges did you face along the way?
LCPS has been doing this work for over 20 years; the challenges have been many and complex. Growth of the district has been intense as LCPS has tripled in size over this time. Changes in leadership and the cost per unit of energy can provide both opportunities and challenges. As Jim Collins said: “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.” Simply focusing on not allowing ourselves to be good enough has probably been the greatest hurdle. Continuing to grow, evolve, innovate and adapt through changing times is never easy.
In what ways could this have implications for Virginia’s energy efficiency landscape?
If every school district could save over 28% on its energy costs, as LCPS has been able to do for the last 20 years, the effect would be astounding. Choosing to take the LCPS approach has positive implications for people, the planet, and proficiency of students.
What’s the next step for you?
The LCPS Energy & Environment Team has begun using social media to help educate folks and get the message out, feel free to follow us on Twitter @LCPSeeteam. LCPS continues to focus on certifying more of our building as ENERGY STAR schools. We have moved from seven certified in 2008 to fifty-five certified in 2015. We expect to have even more in 2016. Constant vigilance and laser focus on the small details will be how we move forward.
What “lessons learned” would you share with other VAEEC members?
Imagine an old man out in the country rocking in his chair on his front porch. Beside him, his faithful dog snoozing on the porch next to him. Each day the neighbor would walk by, and most days it is peaceful and calm, but from time to time the dog’s tail slips under the rocker. The dog lets out a horrible wail and clearly is in pain, but shortly he settles back into dreamland next to the old man. One day the neighbor asks him: “Why doesn’t your dog just move?” The old man responds: “Don’t hurt enough yet.” Our advice is don’t wait until it hurts too much not to move; move as soon as you can. Failure to act or delay in taking action has a cost that can never be recovered. There is no time but now!
Want to learn even more about LCPS success? Contact:
John Lord & Michael Barancewicz
Energy Education Specialists
Loudoun County Public Schools
1002-C Sycolin Road, SE | Leesburg, VA 20175