Leading from the Left

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Energy Efficiency in the Orange County Schools

There was an article in the Chapel Hill Herald last week about energy savings in the Orange County school system. Apparently the school system has saved nearly $1 million in the last four years in energy costs through energy efficiency.

Hat's off to the Orange County schools for taking these steps.

In addition to the savings to the tax payer, increased energy efficiency reduces our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the amount of green house gases being pumped into the atmosphere. If we're going to get serious about dealing with global warming, then all levels of government--from the federal to state to county to school boards--should take steps like these.

On a related note, I've received a number of emails about heating problems at Stanford Middle School. The HVAC system at Stanford, which was scheduled to be replaced in 2010, is failing. As February temperatures dip into the 20's and 30's, students are studying in frigid classrooms. I've spoken to members of the school board, and they are very concerned about these conditions. Consequently, they are planning to replace the HVAC system this year at an estimated cost of $500,000.

Making this replacement ASAP is in the best interest of the students and staff who are working in these conditions. A new HVAC system will also give us an opportunity to become even more energy efficient because a new system should use significantly less energy to heat the school.

The question becomes, of course, where to find an additional $500,000 for an unexpected HVAC replacement. I support using lottery proceeds for this expenditure. In a previous post, I mentioned that the BOCC is discussing how to disperse lotter monies. The situation at Stanford is a clear example of why the OC school system needs more money for capital improvements--particularly renovations and replacement in older schools.