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Downers Grove District 99: Energy-efficient items save $6 million

DOWNERS GROVE – Community High School District 99 is touting nearly $6 million in savings as a result of energy-efficient equipment in schools.

At its June 15 meeting, the Board of Education received a presentation about the savings.

The district spent about $17.2 million on energy costs between October 2002 and March 2015, when its most recent bills were processed, according to board documents. If it hadn't implemented energy-efficient measures, the district would have spent $23.2 million.

Superintendent Mark McDonald said the district established an energy conservation agenda in 2002 to reduce the amount spent on energy. He's proud of the $6 million in savings.

"That's money we didn't have to spend because we didn't waste energy or electricity," McDonald said.

Jim Kolodziej, director of physical plant and operations, said the district has received two grants from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for additional work.

The grants, which are worth $63,995, will pay for energy-efficient lighting at the auditorium at Downers Grove South High School and the small gym at Downers Grove North High School.

In the future, the district anticipates looking at boilers at Downers Grove North, Kolodziej said.

One big factor in helping with savings is staff, Kolodziej said. More and more staff members are remembering to turn off lights when they leave a room, which he said is cutting costs.

"That's the biggest change I've seen," he said. "I think that's really important because if everyone works together, you just reap so many benefits."

Among potential future projects is installing LED lighting in classrooms and halls, Kolodziej said.

Board member Michael Davenport wants the district to look at replacing some of the older windows in the schools. He said it would be a "tremendous opportunity" to save on energy bills.

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