Energy management can save taxpayer dollars - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Energy management can save taxpayer dollars

By Donna McCollum

CENTRAL HEIGHTS, TX (KTRE) - Kevin Matheny, facility manager for Central Heights Independent School District has the keys opening the doors to sound energy management. He walks the hallways monitoring turned off lights and lowered thermostats. The district is practicing energy efficiency to save tax dollars. Lighting retrofits can lead to a 45% savings. "They (experts)  claim it's the quickest payback if you go to your energy efficient fixtures," said Matheny who has attended seminars on the subject. The district has computerization that provides Matheny control over the thermostat.   "It does save money by limiting the run times," claimed Matheny as he surveyed temperatures from a computer outside a work closet. There's even a water regulated toilet. "This has a selector for the amount of water that's required to flush the commode,"  demonstrated Matheny with a push of a button. He learned about the Australian designed plumbing fixture from a board member.

Despite all these efforts the district is still using outdated energy saving methods. The State Energy Conservation Office may help. It's teaching energy management to districts and government municipalities. Dr. Bahman Yazdani runs a laboratory at Texas A & M devoted to developing cost saving energy systems. "It's very easy. It's not a rocket science," said the scientist. Instead it's an approach of changing people's behavior, combined with architectural design and energy efficient equipment. Together it works. Yazdani led Dallas County to lower energy bills. He then worked for Bryan schools. "In Bryan school district they lowered the tax rate by 4% just by implementing energy efficient methods," said Yazdani. The practice also lowered a previously failed bond election. The second election passed.

The state is offering low interest loans through the LOANSTAR Funding Program to help participants get started. "When you reduce the energy cost more than you increase the mortgage, it's free," said Dr. Mark Clayton with the Texas A & M Department of Architecture.

That's appealing to Central Heights ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn.  The district is proposing a school bond election for a new high school.  "One of the steps a district can take that's pro active is to go out and make sure when you design the school that you're doing it in the most energy efficient way possible," noted Glenn. This approach has lowered bond amounts by millions.   In some cases even eliminated the need for bonds. A bright idea that school administrators and taxpayers are liking.

A workshop will be held in Lufkin on march 10th. For a schedule of other planned workshops go to archone.tamu.edu/chud. Other information at www.etvv.org/rcbi 

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