The Omaha Public Schools (OPS) is Nebraska’s largest school district. In 02/2010, OPS, in partnership with Verdis Group, LLC, created its first ever Energy Action Plan, outlining several strategies to help the district reduce its consumption of energy, water, and other resources. Soon thereafter, Green Schools Initiative (GSI) was launched, the goal of which was to implement many of the strategies outlined in the Energy Action Plan, and to embed a culture of environmental responsibility across the district. After three years the district has dramatically reduced its environmental impact and shaved nearly $2 million in costs.
There are four noteworthy metrics that provide a clear indication of the impact the GSI has had: financial, environmental, energy and waste.
The financial impact of the initiative clearly stands out. The estimated benefits conservatively exceed $2.7 million dollars, a figure that clearly shows a positive and beneficial return on investment.
• $1.8 million in cumulative energy savings since 09/2010
• $545,000 in lighting incentive rebates
• $400,000 value in energy audit services through State of Nebraska and City of Omaha grant programs
The environmental benefits were exceptional as well. Energy conservation in buildings kept the equivalent of almost 14,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. Fewer emissions result in cleaner air. Cleaner air results in healthier young people. Healthier young people are superior learners.
The average ENERGY STAR rating for OPS’s 83 schools that are eligible made an impressive jump from a three-year low of 46.4 in 09/2010 to 64.5 in 02/2013 after peaking at 65.3 in 12/2012.
When comparing the last seven calendar years, 2012 boasts the lowest volume of trash sent to the landfill for the district; a significant accomplishment. Recycling volumes are also at a five-year high.