MCPASD schools honored by Energy Star

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The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District was recently named an Energy Star leader by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The school district achieved a rating of 75 or greater (leaders top performer) for the eligible facilities in its portfolio.

“That means we are better than 75 percent of the schools in the program,” MCPASD Energy Manager Neal Bickler said.

Actually, all 10 schools in the district rated well above that number, he said. The average for the 10 schools is 91. “We have some as high as 97 and our lowest is 87,’’ Bickler said.

MCPASD facilities were first honored by Energy Star in 2007 and it is the fourth straight year all 10 schools have received the honor, he said.

According to the Energy Star website, the district was named a Top Performer in 2010 and also was recognized for having energy efficiency improvements of at least 20 percent in normalized energy use.

“We are very proud that our school district has been recognized by the EPA as a 2012 Energy Star Leaders Top Performer,’’ Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Tom Wohlleber said. “This achievement demonstrates our district’s commitment to efficiency and sustainability.  Our students and staff, led by Energy Manager Neal Bickler and our Facilities Services team, are to be complimented for their efforts in support of this important initiative.’’   

A certificate and letter of recognition have been mailed to Wohlleber.

“They don’t give the plaques anymore because it’s too expensive,’’ Bickler said with a laugh.

MCPASD is one of 12 state schools to be honored in the past three years. No other Dane County school districts have received recognition from Energy Star. The only other state school district to receive a Top Performer award in 2012 was Oconomowoc.

“This achievement demonstrates your commitment to environmental protection through superior energy performance,’’ said Kelli Syrus, communication services manager for Energy Star.

Last year, President Obama announced a nationwide call to action to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. EPA’s Energy Star program provides a strategic pathway toward superior energy efficiency, including a focus on ongoing performance measurement and whole-building improvement, that has helped these leading organizations make meaningful progress toward the President’s goal. 

Energy Star Leaders must meet one of two energy efficiency improvement milestones. The first milestone requires a 10 percent improvement in energy performance across their entire building portfolio, and subsequent recognition is given for each 10 percent improvement thereafter. The second milestone, known as “top performer,” requires the buildings in an organization’s portfolio, on average, to perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide.

To be eligible for Energy Star Leaders recognition, organizations are required to track and submit energy performance data for all buildings and fuel sources.

More than 200 organizations have been recognized by EPA as Energy Star Leaders, and nearly half have met or exceeded the President’s 20 percent energy efficiency improvement goal. Energy Star Leaders have cumulatively saved more than $150 million on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by nearly 95,000 homes.

MCPASD hit the $2 million mark in cost avoidance in energy savings in May, Bickler said. The district implemented the program in 2004. The district paid about $8.7 million during that time, and would have spent more than $10.7 million without the program. That works out to a 19 percent savings.

MHS also was named a Green Ribbon Schools award winner by the U.S. Department of Education in April. The program, in its first year, honored 78 schools nationwide for saving energy, reducing costs, featuring environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protecting health, fostering wellness and offering environmental education.

It’s a combination of things,’’ Bickler said. “Basically, my job was to get people to change their behavior. Plus, we’ve done a lot to upgrade technology. It’s a combination of the two.

“This award demonstrates on a wide scale MCPASD's ability to successfully manage an ongoing program of energy conservation, one that stresses sustainability and benefits greatly from the imaginative and innovative ideas and efforts developed by its staff members.’’