McLean County Unit District Number Five in central Illinois educates more than 12,700 students in 20 schools with seven other support sites and more than 1,731,000 square feet. With a motto of educating each student to achieve personal excellence, the Board of Education and Administration have undertaken many steps to provide for the needs of a diverse population.
In 2004, the need for reduction in the Operations and Maintenance Fund became clear as expenses began to outweigh fund income. Searching for potential answers more creative than simply cutting jobs and services, the Board turned to Energy Education, Inc. and signed a contract with the firm. Hiring a full-time energy manger and adopting a policy to realize energy savings soon followed. The need was obvious and the active energy-saving work began in August 2005. Everyone in the district was encouraged to participate in increasing energy efficiency. The district has made a major commitment to increase energy efficiency through retrofitting and new construction. Some of the major retrofitting projects include installing geothermal capture systems in eight of the schools, installing more energy efficient windows, new insulated exterior walls and replacement of T-12 lighting with T-8 in many rooms. As this growing district begins construction of three new schools, each will have geothermal heating and air conditioning and have many other energy efficient features.
McLean County Unit District Number Five has been recognized for achieving a 20 percent improvement in energy performance across its portfolio of buildings. To date, 14 of the district sites have earned the ENERGY STAR. This award has prompted a great sense of pride among both students and staff. Seeing the ENERGY STAR plaque prominently displayed in building foyers provides a daily awareness of accomplishment and pride while motivating students and staff to continue conserving energy. The human factor of becoming more energy aware will lead to more life-long energy savers. Since our efficiency efforts began, the district has saved more than $4,000,000. The district has avoided more than 5,000 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 1,000 cars or the planting of more than 1,300 acres of trees.