Energy & Saving Money

Negaunee High, Middle schools are ENERGY STAR-certified

MARQUETTE — Negaunee High and Middle schools are two of only six public schools in the Upper Peninsula that are ENERGY STAR-certified.

In fact, Michigan has more ENERGY STAR-certified K-12 schools than any other state in the Midwest, with plans to help other Michigan public educational facilities pursue the designation — and cut energy bills along the way.

To help schools with the certification process, the Michigan Energy Office announced a program to make funds available to public educational facilities in the state on a first-come, first-served basis.

“ENERGY STAR certification helps schools cut energy bills, keep more dollars in the classroom, and provide a cleaner and healthier learning environment,” said Anne Armstrong Cusack, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, in a news release. “It also offers schools a way to demonstrate their commitment to environmental leadership.

“This new program will help Michigan schools cut energy waste and keep the energy efficiency momentum going.”

The Michigan Agency for Energy is part of the MEO.

ENERGY STAR-certified buildings and plants meet strict energy performance standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The buildings use less energy, are less expensive to operate and cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their peers.

At the end of 2017, a total of 479 K-12 schools in Michigan had earned ENERGY STAR certification — the most of any state in the Midwest region.

Dan Skewis, superintendent of Negaunee Public Schools, said in an email the district applied for ENERGY STAR certification about seven to eight years ago.

“We continue to obtain it annually as long as our energy conservation allows us to,” Skewis said.

He noted the state is recognizing districts in the hope it will promote others to apply for certification, which will make more industries conscious of how much energy is being used in their facilities.

Skewis said that several district projects have been completed, which has allowed it to conserve energy. These include the replacement of boilers and multiple steam valves in the middle school and a changeover in lighting at the high school.

The EPA, he said, has a free online tool for measuring and tracking energy use as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The tool calculates a score from 1 to 100. Facilities that score a 75 or higher are eligible to apply for the certification.

According to the Michigan Agency for Energy, a score of 75 indicates a building performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings in the United States.

Skewis said that before facilities gain their certification, they must be verified by an engineer or architect.

“The tool requires the submission of our utility bills from past and present billing cycles, and they are used to calculate our score,” Skewis said.

The other ENERGY STAR-certified schools in the U.P. are Lincoln Elementary School in Sault Ste. Marie, Houghton High and Elementary schools, and Ples/Baraga Junior/Senior High School.

For more information on the program, visit michigan.gov/energy.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.