Adjacent to the capital city of Madison, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District provides quality education for more than 6,000 students in six elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and an alternative high school.
The district’s ten schools and three support services facilities comprise a total of more than 1,000,000 square feet. The district prides itself in being a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency. Each of its ten schools has earned the ENERGY STAR for superior energy efficiency.
The district’s success is largely due to a commitment by the Board of Education and administration to make energy efficiency and sustainability a major priority. Since 2004, the district’s energy manager has monitored energy usage in all of the districts sites and guided staff in finding unique ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.
Because of the district’s success, stakeholders have bought into its mission to inspire, challenge and empower students and staff by incorporating energy efficiency and conservation in and outside of the classroom.
Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District has been recognized by EPA as an ENERGY STAR Leader for improving its energy performance by 20 percent over a 2007-2008 baseline. In the last year alone, the district has avoided greenhouse gas emissions totaling more than 1,200 metric tons, the equivalent of planting more than 275 acres of trees. Since beginning the energy program in 2004, the district has avoided costs of nearly $1.5 million.
The district has employed a number of tested practices to reach its lofty goals.
Two years ago, the Middleton High School Environmental Studies classes received a grant to research various energy-saving initiatives. Students investigated such basic concepts as reducing run times for lights and computers while relying on the active participation of teachers as well.
These class projects not only validated the students’ theories regarding the correlation between reduced lighting and energy costs, but they also enhanced their critical thinking skills about energy efficiency. During the same period, students at Middleton Alternative Senior High School engaged in similar testing and monitoring studies, resulting in a number of real-life operational changes and impressive student presentations to the Board of Education on the practical benefits of renewable energy and sustainability in the future design of new facilities.
Adding to the district’s people-based approach to energy management is its exciting new partnership with Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls, Inc., created to implement numerous facility improvements, such as energy efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, upgraded digital building controls, water conservation, and HVAC equipment optimization and replacement.
In addition, the district has demonstrated leadership in renewable energy and sustainability through the implementation of solar hot water and solar photovoltaic technology at several of its schools.