Highland Park ISD is making one small change to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars: turning off the lights. Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but since the district partnered with Cenergistic, a Dallas-based energy conservation program, utility costs are down by about $500,000 per year.
In a plan to save the district $2 million in energy costs in the next four years, HPISD is working to ensure that no classroom light, no air-conditioning unit, and no heating system are used without purpose. And in a district with more than 7,000 students and numerous community groups, scout troops, parent meetings across seven schools and one administration building, it’s no small task.
According to Cenergistic CEO Randy Hoff, the district was paying nearly $2 million a year in energy costs. Cenergistic’s engineers toured HPISD’s schools, spoke with administrators, janitors, and facility services staff, checking meters and culling through years of the district’s heat, air, electricity, and sewage bills. From there, the company, which deals with 1,400 clients across 48 states, worked to create an ideal plan, so that energy is being used only when needed.
But while the schools, and taxpayers, will see the clear effects of this partnership, students will likely not notice any changes.
“One of our promises is that we’re not going to affect the learning environment,” Hoff said. “This isn’t the Jimmy Carter concept, where we dial down the thermostat and have to be uncomfortable to save energy.”
Instead, the company and district work together to save money during unoccupied and partially occupied hours, when teachers and students are out of the classrooms. Cenergistic works with the school, engineers, and even weather forecasters to ensure that the temperature and humidity of the spaces are all at the most comfortable, sustainable, and productive setting. While the students may not notice the difference, the savings will go to further their education. In other districts, Cenergistic engineers and energy specialists have helped classrooms learn in a hands-on way how to be more sustainable.
“The goal of this partnership was to reduce energy costs so we can focus and donate those savings back to our core mission — education,” said Jon Dahlander, HPISD director of communications. “Every dollar counts, and this means more to spend on their classrooms and the best use of our taxpayers’ money.”
While Cenergistic, based in Preston Center, requires a fee from its clients like HPISD, the $22,500 a month payment comes from the money that would have been spent on HPISD energy bills each month.
“The school district wins and we win, as well, in multiple ways. This program reduces energy cost and eliminates waste,” said Hoff. “It’s something everyone in Highland Park can be proud of.”