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Memphis schools get energy-savvy

School district hopes the software will help save up to 5 percent in energy costs over the next three years, without major capital investments.

The Memphis City Schools district has tapped an application from software developer EnerNOC to manage and reduce its energy consumption across 25 different locations. The initial contract period, which is five years long, is expected to produce an estimated 5 percent in energy reductions across the systems.

The software, called EfficiencySMART, focuses on reduction through insight. It will provide information about ongoing usage and can help school administrators manage energy spikes across the system, avoid charges during peak demand events, and undertake energy efficiency measures. The software focuses on reducing the consumption of equipment, lighting and technology that is already in place rather than new energy technologies. So it is an approach that can be embraced by organizations that don't have budgets for capital equipment expenditures.

Memphis City Schools was an existing company that uses EnerNOC's DemandSMART demand-response services. Those services allow organizations to be alerted about peak usage conditions; they can opt to reduce their electricity consumption during those periods, which means they will receive some consideration from the utility company.

Noted Bobby Barlow, energy manager for the urban school district:

"By working with EnerNOC, we can manage and reduce our energy use more effectively and create cost savings in the process. Those savings can then be applied directly back to our academic programs and operations."

It's another great example of a way that public schools can work around the impact of budget cuts, increasing academic resources while becoming more operationally efficient. If you have read anything about the school budget situation in Memphis, it is pretty dire. That's not really the point of this story, but by taking measures like this one, the district can help lessen the impact when it doesn't get the money it has been promised.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com