Patrick Fite, For the Daily Facts
Posted: 01/26/2012 04:25:15 PM PST

Practicing simple energy efficient methods can add up to huge savings, as the Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) has shown during the past 26 months by saving more than $900,000 in energy costs.

“Everyone is an energy consumer, and therefore, everyone can be an energy saver, ” said RUSD energy education specialist James Fotia. “As an example, saving just 15 minutes of lighting per day can save a lot of money. A little bit of awareness from everybody adds up.”

“We’re very proud that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized our strides in energy efficiency and has awarded the district with an Energy Star Leader Top-Performer designation,” he said. “That means that the our school sites, K-12, are in the top 15 percent nationally in energy efficiency as calculated by the EPA.”

In an effort to conserve energy as well as save money during rough economic times, RUSD contracted with Energy Education, Inc., a national consulting firm that helps clients aggressively save money through energy efficiency.

In 2009, RUSD hired Fotia, who was previously a teacher and has a Master’s Degree in educational administration, to be trained as the district’s energy education specialist. Energy Education Inc. was responsible for Fotia’s training.

Instead of requiring capital investment for new equipment or retrofitting current equipment, the program is geared primarily toward changing organizational behavior.

Fotia’s main job is to lead staff and faculty in examining every energy use point in the district, ensuring that energy is used as necessary and making sure it is never being wasted.

He also gives presentations about the benefits of energy efficiency at student assemblies and in classrooms.

“You can see that it’s on their minds in elementary school, middle school, and in the high schools,” Fotia said. “They care about energy efficiency and sustainability.”

Oscar Stephenson, an eighth-grader at Moore Middle School, writes articles in the school newspaper regarding various issues of the day, including an article about the importance of energy conservation.

“It’s important so we can preserve our planet,” he said.

As part of his job, Fotia collaborates with RUSD maintenance and operations director Joe Aceto to oversee RUSD heating, cooling and ventilation (HCVS) systems, making sure that all the systems are running as programmed.

“Joe Aceto is vital in the operation of the main equipment,” Fotia said.

Moore Middle School Principal Julie Swan, whose school has one of the district’s oldest and most outdated HCVS systems, is proud that the school, along with the others in the district, has managed to contribute to the district’s large savings.

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