The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 21, 2013

Energized savings

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — It didn’t happen in one day, with one switch or with one person, but through a concerted effort, the Clinton School District has saved more than $2 million by utilizing energy-efficient practices.

The Clinton Community School District was awarded the Chairman’s Sustainability award by energy consulting firm Cenergistic for saving more than $2 million on energy costs during the past eight years.

John Lampus, of Cenergistic, presented members of the Clinton School Board and district energy manager Steve Colschen with the award during the committee of the whole meeting Monday.

The award recognizes organizations that have worked with Cenergistic for more than eight years and have achieved 20 percent energy cost savings.

“There’s a lot of awards that we give out, but this one means a little bit more I think to me than anyone else because being an energy specialist, I know that it’s easy to start the program up. You got a lot of euphoria and a lot more enthusiasm in the beginning that over the years, people change, times change, priorities change,” Lampus said. “It’s fabulous to see a client continue getting the numbers that you guys have.”

The district pays Cenergistic for the partnership out of its utility budget with savings paying for the cost of the program. Colschen works with Cenergistic to analyze all of its energy uses and creates a plan to use energy wisely while eliminating waste.

Superintendent Deb Olson praised Colschen for playing a crucial role for the district.

“Steve is known as the energy czar of the Clinton district because Steve has the responsibility at looking at how we deal with energy and how we try to conserve and use it as wisely as possible. A huge reason why we’re receiving this award tonight is due to the diligence of Steve,” Olson said.

While Colschen was lauded for leading the district in energy efficiency, he pointed to his colleagues working in schools daily to support the energy-saving efforts.

“You can’t do this on your own. I’m not the one turning stuff on and off. I’m not the one doing the work. The teachers, custodians, maintenance, all these people are doing the work,” Colschen said. “I’ve got the upmost respect for the people I work with because, like I said, these people do everything to make my job easy.”

Colschen continually reviews energy use, updating plans as programs and seasons change, and performs frequent energy audits to ensure that proper conservation practices are used consistently throughout the system.

He tracks the district’s energy consumption including electricity, water, sewer, natural gas and fuel using energy-accounting software. Colschen compares current energy use to a baseline period and calculates the amount of energy that would have been used had conservation and management practices not been implemented.

“There’s no switch that’s worth a million dollars. You need to find a million switches and turn them off a million times,” Lampus said.

The remaining money that is saved on utility bills can then be put into programs for the school, which is what Colschen said he strives to do.

“Every dollar we save or penny we save, we put towards our kids and that’s what it’s all about for me,” Colschen said.