The Somerset Hills School District (SHSD), located in Bernardsville, NJ, is a regionalized school district serving the Somerset Hills area of Northern Somerset County. SHSD employs over 300 certificated and support staff and serves 2,065 prekindergarten through 12th grade students in three schools-an elementary, middle, and high school-that occupy more than 400,000 square feet of space. The district remains focused on meeting the needs of all students through the delivery of a world-class educational program that reflects the whole-child commitment to the development of each student. While the district has been nationally recognized for its academic excellence, it continually strives for improvement in all areas. Toward this end, SHSD partnered with the Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE) program in late 2009 and became an ENERGY STAR partner in 2010.
By implementing energy efficiency methods recommended by EPA and the SEE program, the district was able to reduce its energy usage by more than 10 percent, earning recognition as an ENERGY STAR Leader from EPA, and avoid costs of over $55,000 during the first nine months of the program. In addition, the district's middle school has earned the ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance. The district's energy efficiency progress is measured and tracked in both EPA's Portfolio Manager and SEE's utility tracking tool. SHSD's energy efficiency program involves no-cost and low-cost behavioral and operational strategies. Behavioral strategies are implemented by the students, teachers, and administrators at the school buildings and include turning off lights when not needed, closing doors to maintain temperature control, unplugging unused equipment, and turning off computer monitors and other electronics when not in use. Operational strategies include making infrastructure improvements, maintaining and efficiently operating HVAC equipment, upgrading lighting, and identifying de-lamping opportunities in overlit areas. SEE-provided materials, such as posters, stickers, and progress charts, reinforce strategies. In addition, energy-themed curriculum materials are provided to educate students about energy use, energy sources, and the environmental impacts of saving energy. SEE activities include an energy-themed game show, a visit from the Energy Hog, and the formation of student-led SEE squads. By following the district's progress through SEE and ENERGY STAR, students have learned that their actions have a direct impact on the district's energy efficiency goals, as well as on the environment.