Whittier Union has received two prestigious awards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its District-wide energy conservation program to conserve electricity, natural gas and water.
The first award from the EPA names the District as an Energy Star Leader for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The award commends the District for its buildings scoring in the top 13 percent among similar buildings across the nation for efficient energy use.
The second EPA award honors Whittier Union for reducing energy use by more than 20 percent from the time the District began its energy conservation program four years ago. By reducing energy usage, the District has saved more than $2.7
million to date and has had a positive impact on the environment.
“Our conservation efforts have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5,531 metric tons of carbon dioxide – that is similar to removing 993 cars off the road for a year or planting 141,179 tree seedlings and letting them grow for 10 years, said
Dave Pasillas, Whittier Union’s Energy Education Manager.
“It’s really terrific to have achieved this level of savings and to have our results validated by the EPA,” Pasillas said. “In choosing to use less energy we are keeping more of our money budgeted for utilities within our District to help our students and our staff – we’re helping ourselves by saving this money.”
Pasillas said Whittier Union’s energy conservation program has been a team effort from its inceptionand involved a comprehensive effort to educate all staff on ways to reduce energy use.
“It’s a lot more than just turning off the lights,” added Pasillas. “Our program has benefited from all of our departments working together to save energy. “We’ve been able to eliminate waste while keeping everyone comfortable and we’ve ended
up saving quite a bit of money in the process,” Pasillas noted.
Whittier Union hired Energy Education Inc. as a consultant in September 2008 and work on the program began in November 2008 when the District promoted Pasillas to the position of Energy Education Manager. Energy Education Inc. provided training for Pasillas and worked site by site with him to find ways to conserve electricity, water and gas.
Pasillas worked with teachers, staff and administrators at the high schools and District offices to encourage them to conserve by shutting down and unplugging equipment such as computers, lights and other electric appliances when not in use.
“Little by little we’ve seen a change in energy usage and we’ve been sharing news of our savings with everyone so that they can see that their efforts are making a difference,” Pasillas said.
While the cost of water has increased over the years, the District has actually been able to save on its water bill by doing things such as reducing sprinkler run times and repairing broken sprinklers. Pasillas said the District is also considering upgrading sprinkler controllers, possibly by using rebate money.
A lot of savings are realized during the summer months, he said. For example, teachers go through a check list of equipment to turn off and submit the list when they check out for the summer. The Food Services Department consolidates food supplies and turns off unused refrigerators; unused boilers are turned off as well.
In addition, the District participates in Southern California Edison’s Summer Discount Program. Through this program, Whittier Union’s air conditioning systems can be automatically cycled off for 15 minutes throughout a six hour period, when Edison’s power reserves are low. The District receives approximately $55,000 a year in rebates for participating in the program.
“This effort is having a very positive impact on our bottom line and we expect it will continue to do so as we move forward with plans to save more on electricity, gas and water,” said Paul Muschetto, Associate Superintendent of Business Services.
“There is still more we can do to conserve and do our part for the environment while saving money for the District,” Pasillas said. “I continue to be excited about the possibilities.”