Pennsylvania school gets high marks for energy-saving plan

Pennsylvania school gets high marks for energy-saving plan

Summary: Remember how steamy hot it got in your school classroom as the days of summer vacation approached? Now, imagine if the heat in that classroom was still on every day of the year, for no other reason than that it was automatically set that way.

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TOPICS: CXO, Cisco
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Remember how steamy hot it got in your school classroom as the days of summer vacation approached? Now, imagine if the heat in that classroom was still on every day of the year, for no other reason than that it was automatically set that way.

That's just one small thing the Council Rock School District in Pennsylvania was able to address by teaming up with Aramark Education to create a comprehensive energy management program.

The first step along the way was starting to monitor its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems by integrating them to a Cisco network backbone via a fibre network. Matthew Frederickson, director of information technology for the district, who joined from the private sector about five years ago, said once his team began monitoring those systems, the facilities staff were able to make simple adjustments that had an immediate impact on the electricity budget.

Since the program was adopted in December 2005, Council Rock has cut its energy consumption by 42.7 percent, saving almost $5.3 million.

There are 18 buildings in the Council Rock district, with more than 12,600 students. There are roughly 5,500 computers managed by the 14-person IT staff, including 2,000 that are laptops, Frederickson says.

Tying the HVAC technology from Siemens and Johnson Controls into the Cisco backbone was just the first step in what has become a program championed by everyone in the district from staff to parents to students. After addressing the building controls situation, Frederickson's team turned to the computers, using Symantec Ghost to schedule them for automatic shutdown every evening and turning them back on in the early morning to run security updates and patches. Since starting to power-manage roughly 2,000 computers in November 2008, Frederickson figures he is on a rate to save another $100,000 per year for the district. He's working on adding the rest of the desktops to this schedule. (He figures that the district saves $50 per PC per year for every systems it power-manages.)

Council Rock's work has already won it an Energy Star Partner of the Year award not once, but twice.

Pretty much everyone is in on the act. Encouraged by the science curriculum coordinator, Frederickson says many of the students have started green teams that are evangelizing the virtues of recycling and other "green" activities throughout the community.

Internally, Frederickson's team continues to evaluate future plans for ongoing improvements, including the use of Cisco's EnergyWise software, which is a free update for supported Cisco switches in the education environment. By deploying EnergyWise, Frederickson's team hopes to be able to extend power management to roughly 230 access points throughout the district, as well as all the IP phones that are used by the administration.

Topics: CXO, Cisco

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  • Imagine this...

    This is a tremendous story about a forward, environmentally friendly thinking school district. I wish there were more out there like this.

    The only sad part is there are solutions out there that could have cut the approximately 3,500 desktop PC's into about 700 desktop PC's...imagine what the savings would be if you could cut the number of PC's by 1/5 but still give students, teachers and admin full workstations.

    In my opinion, this is really the next wave that needs to hit the press. A truly sustainable, super-low energy IT infrastructure.
    razartech