Westerville Schools Cost Avoidance for Utilities Passes $20 Million Mark

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Way back in 2007, the Westerville City School District set out on a mission to curtail energy use among its aging buildings and to save money by targeting lighting, HVAC and electrical usage.  They replaced old equipment in order to improve efficiency and addressed problems with building temperatures and plumbing failures.  They swapped ancient HVAC systems with better models and substituted energy-draining windows and doors with units that are more efficient.  They also implemented an annual tuck-pointing repair program and contracted with a company who provided a full-time energy manager to oversee conservation in the district.  Infrared scans of all roofs were performed to detect areas of wet insulation, which prompted aggressive roof repair and replacement. 

These efforts have paid off in an enormous way.  Scott Dorne, Executive Director, Facilities & Operations, recently reported on utility savings, saying Westerville City Schools secured more than $90,000 in energy rebate payments in 2018, bringing the district’s totals to $300,000 since FY13.  FY18 marked a historic high in cost avoidance for utilities at $2.5 million.  The district paid $768,737 less for utilities in FY18 than in FY07.  During the last six years, Westerville Schools have averaged about $750,000 less in utility payments than the FY07 baseline, marking a real savings of $4.5 million.  From inception in FY07 to FY18, total cost avoidance has exceeded $20.7 million. 

“The district’s front-line technicians have been key players in the upgrades, serving as eyes and ears out in the field,” Dorne explained. “The feedback they provide gives managers information about systems, equipment and components that might soon require upgrading or replacement as part of the energy efficiency push.”  

Westerville Schools improved its problem-solving skills by developing self-directed work units focused on analyzing data to support the decision-making process.  “The team’s focus remains on students and staff,” Dorne said.  “We want to be so good at what we do that we eliminate the need for our customers to call.” 

Others are taking notice of Westerville’s success.  The district has received the following awards and recognitions:

  • Energy Excellence Award (EEI, 2011)
  • Energy Start Partner (Federal EPA, 2011)
  • Energy Efficiency Certificate of Recognition (AEP, 2012)
  • Chairman’s Sustainability Award (Cenergistic, 2013)
  • Cover story, Facility Maintenance Decisions magazine (October 2018 edition).

Currently, Westerville Schools have partnered with the Limbach Company as a beta district in a new program designed to provide near real time data analysis and to recommend strategies for further reduction opportunities.  This will enable the facilities team to look at specific buildings and their efficiencies, or lack thereof, to identify future projects.  Participation in this program has already paid dividends by discovering a new HVAC issue in a building that could have cost the district about $1,500 a month if it had gone undiscovered.