RPS cuts carbon footprint by '17 million miles'

During the last two years, the Rochester School District has saved $1.3 million in energy costs. That equates to a 15% reduction in energy use and a 16% reduction in costs.

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There's a few different ways to measure the decrease in Rochester Public Schools' energy consumption over the last two years: There's the percentage by which it dropped. There's the amount of money the district saved.

Or it can be compared to the number of miles an average vehicle would have to travel to produce the same amount of carbon emissions. That number is positively eye-catching:

17 million miles.

Rochester Public Schools is 26 months into an agreement with the company Cenergistic, which is helping the district improve energy-efficiency in its facilities and operations. Adam Hanson, an energy specialist with Cenergistic, recently gave an update to RPS officials about the results of that agreement over the first 23 months of available data.

“Ultimately, we’re looking to save on utilities so that we can reinvest in what matters most, and that’s the education of our students,” Hanson said.


During that two-year time period, the district has saved $1.3 million in energy costs. That equates to a 15% reduction in energy use and a 16% cost reduction.

The program has been more successful than originally planned, with savings exceeding the forecasted amount by more than $11,000 during the first two years.

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The amount of energy saved over the last two years is the “equivalent of eliminating Co2 emissions from 17,592,763 miles driven by an average automobile,” according to the district’s website.

To put that in context, the distance around the earth, as measured at the equator, is 24,901 miles, according to National Geographic . That means the school district has reduced its footprint by the amount of carbon that would be released from "an average automobile" if it were to drive around the world more than 700 times.

The district has increased its goal to save $841,000 in the third year of the program. If accomplished, that would increase the total savings over the three years to an estimated $2.15 million.

Part of that reduction has been achieved through having efficient equipment. According to Hanson, RPS has 18 buildings that are Energy Star certified. Hanson presented a graph showing RPS's energy usage divided by the number of square feet in the district. That number has decreased from 71 in July 2018 to 60 in June 2020.


The reduction has also been achieved through efficient usage. Hanson said he’s able to use an app to monitor the various buildings. That way, he can tell if there's an inefficiency before it goes on for too long.

“I can go to that school ... and I can try to resolve that issue instead of waiting a month and a half, two months until all the bills are in,” Hanson said. “This allows me to resolve something in pretty much two or three days instead of months.”

RPS Energy Savings Update by inforumdocs on Scribd

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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