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Committee putting its energy into conserving energy in Washington County schools

May 12, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - They could turn off their computers when they're not using them. They could remember to turn off lights when they're not in the classroom.

Or they could try to conserve water, said Clear Spring Elementary Principal Amy Norris. Ideas like these and others will be discussed by members of a newly formed Washington County Public Schools committee.

Norris is one of more than 30 teachers, administrators, staff and local business representatives who are involved with the committee.

The Superintendent's Energy Savings Advisory Committee will have its second meeting today, said Dale Diller, energy management specialist.

He said the group will discuss ways to conserve energy in the school system's 44 buildings. Diller said he believes a goal of reducing energy consumption by 2 percent in the first year would be realistic.

"We're initiating energy conservation programs in the classroom," he said.

Diller, who has been with Washington County Public Schools for two years, said he has put programs in place to conserve energy.

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"I've done as much as I can do now," he said. "So the schools are ready to go to the next level."

Diller said when it comes to energy, it's important to buy it cheap and use less. The school system has a $7.3 million utility budget for 3.2 million square feet of facilities spread among 44 buildings.

Judith Zaft, a special-education teacher at South Hagerstown High, said she joined the committee because "politicians have stepped aside and let the energy companies just have reign over the prices."

She said she was curious about the school system's approach to energy savings.

"The light bulb affects the student," Zaft said. "Everything has gone up, and we can't turn the lights out, but we need to pay more attention to recycling and saving energy."

Diller said energy usage typically goes up 4 percent to 5 percent each year. He's hoping the committee can come up with ways to lower that increase.

Diller has already reduced energy usage at school sites by installing more efficient lighting and more energy-efficient equipment.

"Now we are ready to include the staff and the students," he said.

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