District sheds light on energy efficiency at CHS

With energy efficiency dominating the headlines, it is a pertinent question to ask what Carmel High School is doing to cutback power usage.

Among students, the most pressing issue in energy efficiency appears to be lighting on the CHS campus. Senior Marie Rogers feels that the lighting of the campus during the nighttime is an unnecessary measure.

“The most evident waste of energy on campus is certainly after-hours lighting,” Rogers says. “It’s so apparent how unnecessary the lighting is when some nights the school is nearly dark, and on other occasions, the library, gym and other lights are on.”

However, according to Dan Paul, Director of Facilities and Transportation for CUSD, the nighttime lighting at CHS serves a definitive purpose.

“We have staff on-site until 11 p.m. and leave most of the lights on until shortly after they leave,” Paul says. “Exterior lights at CHS should turn off at 11 p.m. and back on at approximately 6 a.m. There should not be any lights on through the night at CHS.”

In an effort to contribute to campus energy efficiency, Paul notes that the district plans to install exterior lighting in the next 12 to 18 months that will regulate its own start and stop times based on the sunrise and sunset respectively.

While lighting tops the concerns of CHS students, AP Environmental Science teacher Jason Maas-Baldwin points out that classroom heating can serve as a colossal waste of energy at CHS.

“To me, in the winter, the amount of energy it takes to heat the classrooms is a pretty big juggernaut,” Maas-Baldwin says. “It’s kind of my sense that most of the older classrooms don’t have great thermal efficiency, versus like my [science wing] classroom where I barely have to do anything.”

Inefficient usage of energy in classroom heating cannot simply be solved by the district. It’s a challenge that faculty must take on as well.

Maas-Baldwin points out that sometimes the furnace will be going full blast in classrooms and the door will be open all day. Additionally, he has come in on weekends to find that the office is being heated.

Despite the apparent signs of careless energy usage, Paul notes that CUSD has in the past and will continue to implement upgrades to their systems.

“High-efficiency furnaces were installed [and] an energy management system was installed to control the heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment,” the facilities director says. “Projects under consideration include [installing] sensors to shut off HVAC equipment if classroom doors are open for an extended period.”

While energy usage is no simple matter, the district seems committed to continuing to reduce it.

–Zac File