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Gaston schools “go green” to save money and the planet

The Catawba Heights Elementary robotics team won first place trophy for teamwork at RoboGASTON 2020 back in March. Way to go, CHES Constructabots! Gaston Schools photo

Gaston County Schools is doing its part to “go green” with energy conservation efforts that are saving money and the planet.

Over the past three years, schools have cut electricity use by nine percent, saved an estimated 16 million gallons of water, and reduced carbon emissions by more than 11.5 million pounds.  Cutting carbon emissions equates to planting 1,574 acres of trees or eliminating 770 automobiles from the roads.

Further, the schools and central office buildings have implemented energy conservation strategies that are a big help financially as utility rates rise, according to Dr. Morgen Houchard, the district’s executive director for auxiliary services.  “Reducing energy consumption is simply the right thing to do because we want our students to inherit a healthy place to live,” he said.

The energy conservation efforts are the result of a partnership with EduCon Energy and the work of the district’s energy managers, who visit schools regularly and confer with administration to emphasize the importance of being energy conscious.

“The key to success with this type of program depends on the degree of participation from all of the stakeholders, including maintenance, district administration, school staff members, and students,” said Andrew LaRowe, president of EduCon Energy.  “This commitment has been very evident with Gaston County Schools, and we are thrilled with the progress.  The beauty of this behavioral-based program is that it accomplishes two important goals – reducing costs, especially in light of rising rates and fees, and having a positive effect on the environment.”  

Southwest Middle School principal Cindy Hester makes it a priority to review her school’s energy information, and she works with her staff to determine what they can do to conserve as much energy as possible.  It’s a practice that is saving money for her school.

“People don’t realize how much we are paying in energy bills,” said Hester.  “By following the advice of our energy manager, we can make a big difference by putting money that we save on utilities back into the classroom for the benefit of our students and teachers.