Shooting for Energy Star

Of the 194 schools and learning centers Fairfax County Public Schools operates, only seven achieved Energy Star status in 2011. Our school is the only secondary school to receive this honor.

In December, a commemorative plaque was installed in the main hallway to alert students and staff of the school’s accomplishment.

“I was excited to see the Energy Star sign in the hallway; I hadn’t seen it before and I am excited about the accomplishment,” subschool 12 principal Eric Norland said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star guidelines, to achieve Energy Star status a building must have an Energy Management Plan and consistently follow it.

Energy Star rates building on a scale of 0-100, with 50 being the national average. According to Tom Reinsel, coordinator of energy management for FCPS, our school was given a score of 78 in 2011.

Administrative principal Bill Evers said that the county designed our school’s Energy Management Plan and it involves turning off all of the heating and air-conditioning after 4:00 p.m. in empty rooms.
In addition, on the weekends the heating and air conditioning is switched off, unless the building is being used for community sports events or meetings.

“We try to follow the Energy Management Plan and turn off the heat and the air-conditioning in rooms that aren’t being used,” Evers said, “Other schools in the county just leave the heat and air on all the time; we’ve tried control our energy use.”

According to the Fairfax County School Board, achieving Energy Star status is a culmination of a goal set by the county four years ago.
“A decision was made by the county to try and get county-wide energy costs under control,” Evers said. “Robinson alone spends over $600,000 on electricity every year.”

Evers said, to control its energy usage and follow the Energy Management Plan a school must be willing to work with the county and be committed to the program.

“It’s a school-wide effort; we have to be conscious of our efficiency and energy use, and Mr. Evers and Mr. Torrence [the building engineer] deserve a lot of credit,” principal Dan Meier said.

Being an Energy Star school adds to the school’s overall image and prestige.

Meier said, “I’m proud of the fact that the governor has named us a school of excellence for the past two years, and now, the federal government has recognized us with the Energy Star; I think we are a complete school.”