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Friday, October 2, 2015

Making Small Changes to Save MISD Millions

Dwayne Tampkins and Kelly Campbell checking the boiler
temperature at Legacy High School.
When the more than 50 Mansfield ISD buildings are empty in the wee hours of the night, two MISD employees are busy walking through each hallway and room with one mission in mind—saving the district money.

Energy education specialists Kelly Campbell and Dwayne Tampkins have helped save the district more than $4.5 million since the MISD energy program started in 2012. The total cost reduction averages to about 17 percent per year.

“We partner with ENERGY STAR, and they give us great resources and tips to help us see where else we can cut energy costs,” said Campbell. “The district has been named ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for two years in a row. We’re shooting for a three-peat this year.”

Campbell and Tampkins go around to each campus and office building ensuring heating, cooling, and watering systems are off when no one is in the building. The team said they are able to reduce costs through these types of mechanical checks and by promoting behavioral changes.

Initiatives like Turn it off, Shut it off, Close the door are what the duo teaches at MISD schools and facilities to help spread the importance of conservation and sustainability. Tampkins said through building these relationships, everyone starts to invest in the mission.

“It’s the power of one,” said Tampkins, “If one person starts tweaking their behavior, it ignites the fire in others to do it, and those savings add up.”

Some campuses, such as Elizabeth Smith Elementary School, have gotten students involved in the effort. In-school suspension aide Suzanne Stevens started Watt Watchers, a club consisting of about 40 third and fourth graders in which students learn about energy conservation, environment preservation, and leadership.

A group of Watt Watchers after making their rounds in
the Elizabeth Smith hallways.
“These students walk all through the hallways and look into classrooms making sure lights are off, computers are shut down, and doors are closed,” said Stevens. “Our teachers have really bought into the program because they know if they are in violation, the Watt Watchers are going to give them a red ticket, and then we talk about why they got the ticket.”

Stevens added that the good habits children learn in the program trickle out into the community. Parents have told her that their children started practicing energy conservation at home, and some of Stevens’ past students have started similar programs at their new schools.

Hearing about programs like Watt Watchers and other schools that implement campus-wide eco-friendly incentives is what keeps the MISD energy team motivated.

“I love being able to contribute to the district. Money is going back to MISD, and it directly benefits our students. It doesn't get much better than that,” said Tampkins.