Utility invoices show that with a 31 percent reduction in natural gas usage and 32 percent reduction in electricity consumption over the last eight years, District 211 has saved more than $9 million.
From December 2011 through November 2012 alone, the savings totaled more than $1.2 million.
"We rely on cooperation of everyone in the district to be mindful of shutting things down, and that counts for about 25 percent of our savings," said Reece Thome, District 211's energy manager. "The other 75 percent comes from how we operate our heating, air-conditioning, and lighting systems. Then as equipment wears out, we replace it with more energy-efficient alternatives."
Thome said it's the little things that help keep energy costs down. Staff has turned off unnecessary electrical equipment during winter and spring breaks, such as microwaves, coffee makers, water coolers, and cleaned out and unplugged refrigerators.
"Even though the district built additions to several of our schools a few years ago, we have actually decreased our electricity and gas use," Thome said. "We also have added more electrical equipment within the district, such as computers.
"If you think about it, that is pretty amazing. To increase the total size of our buildings by about 190,000 square feet, add electric- and gas-consuming equipment, and still reduce our actual consumption of both resources by approximately 30 percent. What a tribute to our staff."
Thome said these numbers are a reason to celebrate even as faculty, staff and students work on maintaining or lowering future energy costs.