Local students uncovered more than $1.6 million in potential energy savings for both the city of Pleasanton and Pleasanton Unified School District, according to a recent report by the local nonprofit Go Green Initiative.
Using energy benchmarking tools from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 33 high school and college interns for Go Green's summer internship program spent the last season examining the energy usage for over 1.7 million square feet of city and school district buildings.
Recommendations in the report based on their findings could save local taxpayers more than $1.6 million in energy costs each year and reduce the community's greenhouse gas emissions by over 3,000 metric tons.
"This was a workforce development program, and our interns now have a marketable skill to add to their resume," said Jill Buck, Go Green Initiative founder and CEO. "They learned how to use the U.S.'s industry-standard energy benchmarking tool, and could go right to work helping commercial real estate comply with California's mandatory energy benchmarking regulations."
All 15 PUSD campuses are eligible and have been encouraged to apply for Energy Star certification, but three of them -- Hearst, Lydiksen and Walnut Grove elementary schools -- stood out with their perfect scores, according to the report.
However, 96-year-old Amador Valley High School was determined to be the least energy-efficient campus; an energy management system at each school and the addition of a sustainability director to help reduce energy use and costs for the entire district were recommended.
An energy audit of the PUSD headquarters on Bernal Avenue and developing short term site-specific goals were also suggested.
Similar recommendations were also made for buildings owned by the city of Pleasanton; the report found that the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center and the Callippe Preserve Golf Course clubhouse "have the highest site (energy use intensity) of all city facilities" and use more energy than the national median for similar property types and purposes, making them "the most inefficient buildings and therefore the most expensive to power" for the city.
Factors such as "the energy-intensive water pump in the golf course or meters being linked to adjacent facilities" could explain the "abnormally high" energy use, but whether that's accurate is still uncertain.
"We do not have enough information to formally conclude the causes of these EUIs, but we strongly encourage the city to further explore and investigate by energy auditing the facilities in question," the report stated.