Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wishing Everyone in the
Robbinsdale Area School District and beyond
a Happy, Safe and Efficient Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

Here are some tips for an energy efficient Thanksgiving.
  • Thaw your turkey in cold water instead of the fridge (it requires more energy to keep large items cold in the refrigerator).
  • Cook multiple items in the oven at the same time.  Stuff that oven so everything cooks at once and the oven doesn’t have to be on any longer than necessary. Use ceramic or glass pans.  You can turn down the oven by 25 degrees and get the same results.
  • If your oven has a convection setting, use it.  It cooks more evenly, quickly, and it’s more energy efficient.
  • No peeking! Keep the oven door shut so you don’t increase your cook time.  Just flip on the light and look through the window.
  • Use the microwave for some of the cooking.  Microwave ovens use a fraction of the energy, compared to an oven, and cook much faster.
  • Turn down the thermostat. Between the added people and all the cooking and baking, you’ll have plenty of heat in the house.
  • Use the proper sized burners for your pots so you don’t waste energy.
  • Cook on a gas grill instead of the oven.  They are clean burning and energy efficient.
  • There’s no need to preheat the oven for the turkey.  It’s really not necessary for a long cook time.
  • Don’t use the heated drying option when you run your dishwasher.  Just let the dishes air-dry.
  • Let your leftovers cool before you store them, so your refrigerator doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the items.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

Did you know our schools are billed twice for our electricity use? Well, technically there are two components to our school’s electricity bill - the energy charge and the demand charge. The bills we see at our homes have the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity used, but schools and other commercial buildings are also charged for their peak demand load.

Here is how electric energy is billed for a school:
1. Energy Charge (use over time): Electricity is typically metered at each school facility to determine the amount of kilowatt hours used. This meter is read each month and the difference in the readings accounts for the total consumption; school are billed accordingly.
2. Demand Charge (use at one point in time): Utility companies look at the highest peak of electric use during the month. For example, during the month of December, the total peak demand will be measured every fifteen minutes and charted on a graph. The highest electric load during the month is what the utility will bill for demand. So in other words, if one day out of the month you have everything powered to full blast, that’s the day you’ll be charged for all month.

Why does a utility company have this charge?
Electricity-consuming equipment in a school determines the school’s demand for electricity. As electric use fluctuates during the day and during various seasons, it creates unknown electric load demands for a utility company. In order to accommodate for this, the utility company needs to know the maximum amount of electricity required to provide to their customers.

How can schools help reduce this electricity charge?
Focus on reducing energy use from 11am – 2pm, since that is when occupancy and energy use are highest. In fact, lunch hour is typically the most energy-intense time of the day in a school. Building engineers are trained on how to schedule their large equipment to lower their peak demand load. It is important to understand this concept in case you do play a role in a strategy to reduce these demands costs.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

How much money would be saved if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings in our country improved by just 10 percent?

A)  $2 million

B)  $20 million

C)  $2 billion

D)  $20 billion

Scroll down to check your answer...

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the correct answer is $20 billion! Wow! So much can be saved by just a 10% decrease.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Make it a Green Thanksgiving

Terri Bennett from the Kansas City Star recently published the following tips on how to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving:

Do Your Part:
Top 5 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving should be about a lot of things - family, friends, and breaking bread together. It shouldn't be about waste. This year, Do Your Part to make your Thanksgiving holiday an eco-friendly affair. To help you get started, here are my top five tips for being greener and healthier this Thanksgiving.
1. Serve local or organic foods
On a holiday that features a bountiful feast, serving organic or local food and drinks can have a big impact. When buying a turkey choose a local vendor or brush up on food label claims before you head to the market. Don't know where to start? Check out for information on local turkey sellers and information on healthier choices when doing your holiday grocery shopping.
2. Use nature as decoration
Make beautiful centerpieces and decorations with seasonal items from nature. Some examples include winter gourds, seasonal corns, or pinecones. If you use evergreen branches, let them soak for a day in a water-filled cooler to give them an extra boost of moisture. There's no need to spend big bucks on elaborate centerpieces when you can find all the ingredients in your own backyard. Add a few soy candles in various sizes for a finishing touch.
3. Rent or borrow tableware
If your guest list outnumbers your dinner plates, consider renting extra supplies from a party service. Or ask friends or relatives if you can borrow a few pieces to round out your set. Reusable napkins and cups are the most eco-friendly choice but if you must use disposables choose items that are made from recycled material or are easily recycled.
4. Use reusable "to-go" containers
When it comes to leftovers, reusable containers are the greenest choice. If you send out invitations, ask guests to help you stay green by bringing their own take-home containers. If you think a few people may forget, consider purchasing inexpensive containers as an eco-friendly parting gift.
5. Prep your vehicle for the road
And waste doesn't just come in the form of food and party supplies. If your Thanksgiving plans involve a road trip, make sure your vehicle is ready to go. First, make sure to take care of any necessary maintenance before the big day. And maximize fuel efficiency by removing unnecessary weight from the trunk and checking that your tires are properly inflated.
There's no need to wasteful this November. Do Your Part to enjoy the big feast and your family without spending extra money or creating more trash for the landfill. That's something we can all be thankful for this year.
(Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of "Do Your Part," a practical guide for everyday green living available at

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Good Question

A staff member recently asked me about the Energy Policy for RAS and why staff could not have dorm room size refrigerators in their offices or classrooms unless it was indicated in a student's I.E.P. Good question! In the procedures and guidelines for the district Energy Policy, it states "Personal appliances, microwaves, refrigerators, fans, warmers, and space heaters are restricted from classrooms and offices, unless required by an I.E.P. and a variance request has been approved."

The reason for this guideline is simple, our district is committed to ensuring that every effort is made to conserve energy and natural resources while being good stewards of our financial resources. Small changes like removing unnecessary plug loads is one low or no cost strategy we can use, especially in a district our size, to reduce our overall energy use and save money on our utility costs.

The cost to operate just two mini fridges is approximately the same as one full sized refrigerator. It is much more cost effective to remove all the personal refrigerators throughout the district and add a few standard size energy efficient models to the staff lunch/break rooms. Before this policy, some buildings had 40+ mini fridges so the savings is substantial once removed. With almost 2,000 staff members throughout the district, you can see how reducing the use of personal appliances in our buildings would make a measurable difference.

We are keeping money directly in our classrooms by making simple changes like removing personal appliances. Thanks for doing your part!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Good News

The 1st quarter results from the 2nd year of the SEE program are in and are you ready for some good news? In just three months from April - June of 2013, RAS has saved/avoided $20,635.00 in utility costs. When combined with the total from the first twelve months of the program, the amount saved/avoided since the implementation of the SEE program is $56,716.00 in total overall energy use. This is good news however, we can do better! Our reduction is 2 - 3% and our goal for this year is to reach an overall energy reduction of 10% which is totally achievable.

What can YOU do to reduce energy consumption in your classroom, office or area?
Thanks for doing your part by being energy smart!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NO WASTE November!

Have you heard of No Shave November???
Well, how about NO WASTE NOVEMBER?

What can YOU do this month to not waste energy?

At the end of your work day, don’t wait for the auto shut down, power off your computer when you leave and while you’re at it, turn off your monitor and speakers too. And don't forget your lights or any other lights in unoccupied areas. THANKS!

All our efforts, no matter how small, add up to make a big difference!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Today's Energy Insight

Which country has the highest rate of carbon emissions in the world with close to 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide gas released every year?

A)  China

B)  Russia

C)  Canada

D)  United States

Scroll down to check your answer...

According to National Geographic, with more than 80 tons annually per household, the United States releases the most CO2 emissions into the atmosphere of any other country in the world. To put it into perspective, one pound of CO2 would fill a balloon about 2 1/2 feet wide so in one year, an average American family of 4 would fill 160,000 of these balloons, enough to fill a building 27 stories tall and 100 feet square.