BALTIMORE — Three of the city’s public schools cut a combined $1,500 from their electricity costs over the course of last February and March. The savings were achieved in part through a collaborative program with the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and the Maryland Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Office of Sustainability provided a $24,750 grant to the Maryland USGBC to demonstrate no-cost energy conservation measures to students and school personnel. The measures focused on shutting off lights, computers, and air conditioning units when not in use and being aware of devices that use standby power even when turned off, according to Geoff Stack, co-chair of Maryland USGBC’s Green Schools Committee.
The program was implemented at Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, and the co-located campus of W.E.B. Du Bois High School of Environmental Science and Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business and Law.
Stack and a team of volunteers taught electricity-saving tips to students and presented a workshop to teachers and administrators on how to perform an energy audit.
“[We] hope the lessons learned in the schools will be used at home, too,” said Stack, speaking for the chapter.
Overall, Stack and his colleagues tracked a 3.5 percent decrease in total energy usage for the three schools during February and March, a reduction that equates to roughly $1,535 in electricity savings.
Officials will continue the program through June. A partnership between the Maryland USGBC and the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools program, the initiative uses processes, tools, and curriculum created by the Alliance.
The Maryland chapter began demonstrating the model to school districts in 2008 and to Baltimore City school districts specifically in 2010, said Chris Parts, secretary and board liaison to schools for the Maryland USGBC.
“The chapter’s goal is to develop a program that can be used across school systems in the state,” added Parts.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Schools program, U.S. schools use $6 billion in energy annually. For many schools, electricity usage ranks as their second highest expense below personnel costs. U.S. schools currently participating in the Green Schools initiative are located in California, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Maryland and Washington, D.C.