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Shutdown Challenge cuts $2M
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The Effingham County Board of Education has tallied up $2 million in savings with its energy program that was implemented in January 2008.

Eric Harris, the school system’s energy specialist, attributes the savings to the people involved. In 2008, school system employees were asked to change their behavior in regard to energy use, and Harris continues to work closely with school administrators and staff to create a positive energy-saving environment.

“We ask the teachers to turn off anything they can in their classroom on a daily basis when they leave,” Harris said. “The staff and faculty of the schools have been very patient and willing to work with this program to save money.  It is a lot of little things adding together that create $2 million in savings.”

As an incentive, schools are recognized for their efforts via what Harris terms the Shutdown Challenge, a contest to determine which school has the best shutdown over long winter and summer breaks.

Harris will walk through 10 rooms in every school and assign points to anything that he finds left on and plugged in. The school with the lowest score wins the challenge. So far, Rincon Elementary, Sand Hill Elementary and South Effingham Middle have taken home the shutdown challenge trophy, which is a large, gold lamp with a missing bulb. Craig Jenkins and Horrace Mann Insurance also will be offering a prize next fall as part of the Shutdown Challenge.

In addition to saving the school system money, these savings also translate into good things for the environment. The decrease in energy use is like taking 2,585 cars off the road for a year or planting 368,397 trees and letting them grow for 10 years. This decrease in energy use means 14,403 metric tons of CO2 that has not been released into the atmosphere.

For more information about this topic, call Harris at (912) 547-6952 or email at