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College saving money on electric bills due to energy efficiency measures


Edmonds College's energy efficiency measures are paying off.

According to the most recent report from Snohomish County Public Utility District's Energy Challenge, the college has saved $80,883 on its electric bills compared with the same quarter last year and reduced CO2 emissions by 418,095 pounds. The college expected a 10 percent reduction in its power use due to the efficiencies, but has realized a 17 percent reduction for most of the year compared with 2009-10 consumption.

Edmonds CC energy usage chart

Edmonds CC was one of 45 public school facilities across the state to receive part of more than $31 million in grants to create jobs and energy cost savings. The college received $660,466 to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings. This was the second round of State Jobs Act funding Edmonds CC had received.

In August 2010, it was one of 29 schools across the state to receive a portion of nearly $17 million in State Jobs Act funding to create jobs and reduce energy costs at schools. The college received $850,000 in a competitive grant process.

“In these tough times of serving record numbers of students with fewer dollars, Edmonds College has doggedly pursued ways to reduce costs with the least impact to students,” said the college’s vice president of finance and operations Kevin McKay. “Energy efficiency has been part of our strategy from the start.”

The college used the funds to replace heating ventilation and air conditioning systems and controls in several buildings, upgrade to energy efficient boilers, retrofit parking lot lights, and install advanced energy metering systems across campus.

One of the first projects, which began fall 2010, included retrofitting one of the college’s main boilers to save on gas costs and installing energy efficient lighting in the college parking lots. Altogether, the planned energy efficiency upgrades affected about 700,000 square feet of buildings on campus and were expected to save the college about $150,000 per year.

“Our estimates of what we can save are conservative," said associate director of facilities and maintenance operations Kao Saeteurn. "We’ve found that small changes, such as turning down the heat by a couple of degrees in winter, can save significant dollars. We’ve also saved money by tightening up our schedule: turning off the lights and shutting down facilities when they are not in use.”

In 2009, the college began an energy audit to identify energy conservation measures across campus and installed a new energy grid navigator. The navigator allows the college to monitor energy use and automate facilities in each building. This gives the college more accurate data about where it can save the most money by conserving energy.

“Previously, the college had just three meters for 22 buildings. Now, we’ll be able to look at individual buildings so we can see where the problems are and make changes,” Saeteurn said.

In Snohomish County, the Everett School District received $191,235 and in Everett Community College received $162,825 in that round of State Jobs Act Awards.

"This is a great example of Washington state getting our economy moving in the right direction,” said Gov. Gregoire. “Communities throughout our state will see these grants pay immediate dividends in jobs and energy savings, and we’ll gain long term benefits through quality improvements and cost savings in our public school buildings.”

An estimated 870 jobs will be created by the State Jobs Act Awards, according to the governor’s office.