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School energy use on the decrease across the state

School energy use on the decrease across the state School energy use on the decrease across the state

New data shows energy use in Wisconsin schools, is decreasing and school district collaboration with FOCUS ON ENERGY ®, is helping drive that decrease. That relationship has also given districts the data they need to save more energy and money in the future.

Focus on Energy and B3 Benchmarking worked with 212 Wisconsin school districts, representing 94 percent of Wisconsin counties, to collect and analyze utility data, square footage and usage details, at 1,223 school buildings – more than half the number of schools in the state.

Findings include the following:

• Wisconsin schools spend more than $175 million a year, in energy costs.

• Energy use at benchmarked schools has decreased 23 percent between 2006 (year of previous comprehensive benchmarking) and 2018.

• That 23 percent decrease represents $40 million that can now be spent on other priorities, related to educating Wisconsin’s children.

• Nearly all (97 percent) of the districts that participated in 2018, have completed at least one project with Focus on Energy.

The data gathered also points to more opportunities. If all schools in the study improved energy usage to exceed the current energy code, the combined savings would amount to an additional $8.2 million.

The data B3 Benchmarking gave to the participating school districts, lets them compare the performance of their buildings – energy consumption, energy costs and carbon emissions – with other schools around the state. “The feedback [from school districts] has been really positive,” said Heather Feigum, who manages Focus on Energy’s Agriculture, School and Government programs. “We’re comparing directly to other Wisconsin buildings…and if they have a lower benchmark, they can take that to their school board and say, ‘Look, we’re low compared to our peers,’ and it helps them build a case for upgrades.”

The data also provides a road map for future energy and cost-saving possibilities.

“The data can help a school district decide things like which school [building] to prioritize for energy efficiency upgrades, or if they need to prioritize electric or gas,” said Feigum. “It’s really about creating a relationship with a school district and helping provide them technical assistance, deeper than just, ‘change your lights,’ or [offering] a financial incentive.”