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DCCCD Aims to Beat the Heat With Energy Audits

By Eddie Middlebrook

Conserving energy is a great way to save money as well as protect the environment. That’s why the DCCCD Sustainability Team and the district Facilities Services Council eagerly accepted the Environmental Defense Fund’s offer to host a grant-funded EDF Climate Corps fellow this summer.

EDF Climate Corps
places specially trained EDF fellows in companies, cities, universities and community colleges as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has uncovered nearly 1.3 billion in energy savings.

What do AT&T, Bank of America, the city of Dallas, DreamWorks, JP Morgan Chase and National Geographic Society have in common with DCCCD? They’ve all participated in the EDF Climate Corps program.

Student's Task: Saving Us Money

Tommy LaPointAs the district’s Climate Corps fellow, graduate student Tommy LaPoint’s primary responsibility is to conduct energy audits at the colleges and locations this summer and make recommendations for how to save energy.

An energy audit is an assessment of the energy needs and efficiency of a building or buildings. To calculate energy efficiency, LaPoint will be creating energy-use benchmarks for each college, conducting preliminary energy audits and using financial analysis tools to do cost/benefit analyses of proposed energy-efficiency projects. The financial analysis tools will give the initial cost of the project along with the overall payback period and net present value of each project.

“There are some more in-depth calculations to be made as well as examining potential greenhouse gas reductions, but this is the general idea of the work I am/will be doing,” LaPoint said.

LaPoint will be collaborating with representatives from the DCCCD Sustainability Team and facilities directors/assistants at each college on this project. He will be supervised by Jerry Owens, assistant director of Facilities Services at Richland College.

Once LaPoint completes his 10-week fellowship with DCCCD, he will return to St. Edwards University in Austin, where he is working on his master’s degree in Environmental Management. LaPoint aspires to use project management to improve the environment.

“My goal is to help each college understand their energy efficiency better and help them cut down on energy costs,” LaPoint added.

Five Tips for Saving Energy at Home

As the DCCCD Sustainability Team and the Facilities Services Council lead the district on the journey toward sustainability, we can do our part. The U.S. Department of Energy has five helpful tips for cutting down on energy costs in our homes during the summer:

  1. Operate your thermostat efficiently by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away; lower your temperature setting to 78 degrees only when you are at home and need cooling. Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.
  2. Use ceiling fans. They allow you to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees with no reduction in comfort. Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind-chill effect.
  3. Keep your cooling system running efficiently by avoiding placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longe​r than necessary
  4. On hot days, avoid using the oven. Alternatives include cooking on the stove, using a microwave oven or grilling outside.
  5. Water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll also avoid scalding your hands.