By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- The town’s ongoing efforts to conserve energy within its six public schools haven’t gone unnoticed by state and federal officials.
During the Tuesday’s School Board meeting, school officials announced five of its schools currently qualify for Energy Star status. According to facilities director Chuck Zappala, less than 5 percent of all American public schools have earned Energy Star awards.
This past August, the district was asked to participate in a state public utilities commission survey comparing their energy use with other Granite State schools. Londonderry school officials offered up two years’ worth of data, detailing each school’s energy usage, and a mechanical engineer was assigned to perform an in-depth analysis for each facility.
“The results showed that the average cost of energy use per square foot and per student in the Londonderry Schools was almost 40 percent lower than the state average,” Zappala said. “Based on the information provided in the survey, we were invited to continue the process to earn the awards.”
The district was informed of its status in late December, though the sixth school, Moose Hill School, remains to be verified.
Zappala attributed the delay to the fact that the school, which houses Londonderry’s morning and afternoon kindergarten classes, doesn’t have a gymnasium or cafeteria, and has limited evening and weekend activities. However, he anticipates Moose Hill School will likely be ranked among its peers.
Zappala lauded the efforts of district energy manager Bob Lees, noting that the district has reduced its energy consumption by nearly 30 percent in recent years, with cost avoidances totaling $3.5 million over the past decade.
Toward the beginning of fiscal year 2001, the district embarked on its energy conservation program, partnering with Energy Education Inc., a Texas-based national organization dedicated to helping large organizations, such as school districts, map out comprehensive and people-driven energy savings programs.With Lee’s guidance, the district saw results almost immediately, and in 2008 the Londonderry School District earned a Lighthouse Award in recognition of its conservation efforts.
With over 900 heating, venting and air conditioning units throughout the district, staff members have taken an extremely aggressive approach to monitoring the schools’ usage of heat, lights and air conditioning, particularly in the after-hours and during the summer months.
In October 2008, school officials began the long process of converting the middle school’s heating system from oil to the more economical natural gas, connecting the school to an existing Mammoth Road natural gas line.
Conversions at Matthew Thornton and South elementary schools soon followed.