Washington Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona, educates 24,000 students in 32 schools and operates two support facilities and one administrative center, representing approximately 3 million square feet of floor space. The Washington Elementary School District is committed to achieving excellence for every child, every day, at every opportunity and in preparing all students to become responsible, successful contributors to our diverse society. The district views energy efficiency as an opportunity to teach students about the environment and as a way to reduce building costs saving valuable dollars for instruction. As a result, Washington Elementary School District launched an energy management program fall 2008. Participation in ENERGY STAR has provided the district with many valuable tools and resources to use in creating a successful energy program.
Washington Elementary School District has been recognized by EPA as an ENERGY STAR Leader for achieving a portfolio-wide energy efficiency increase of 20 percent as compared to a 2008 baseline. Since then, the district has saved more than $1.5 million and reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5,000 metric tons, the equivalent of planting more than 1,200 acres of trees every year! Key to the success of this program was the adoption of an energy policy by the Governing Board on September 25, 2008. The concept proposed by the superintendent was to empower each school to make the changes they felt appropriate in order to achieve a minimum of 10 percent in energy savings during the first year. Every campus was benchmarked using EPA's Portfolio Manager tool and each school created an energy plan and energy committee for its campus. District facility staff supported each principal and committee by providing information and education on energy usage and efficiency. Students became involved in various ways throughout the district; Energy Violation Tickets were printed and provided to students so that they could write energy tickets when they saw a light left on or a door left open. In addition, usage data was provided to buildings monthly so that they knew how their building was performing. In fact, results were made public so that all schools could see how their peers were performing. Good-natured competition found campuses competing with each other to see who could save the most energy! Momentum began to build as positive energy saving results started to develop. Several lighting retrofits were performed in the second year of the program using dollars saved in the first year. Throughout the entire process, the district used Portfolio Manager to guide its work and issue reports to stakeholders. New goals are being set for the third year as the district moves toward a five-year goal of increasing energy efficiency by 40 percent.