Collin County, Texas
The move to Energy Manager has resulted in more robust reporting and being able to make data-driven decisions for how to save energy and funds.
With Facilities Manager Marcia Coker leading energy management initiatives, Wylie ISD is in very good hands.
From 22 years at the district to being a certified Master Texas Energy Manager (MTEM) to helping the district avoid thousands of dollars in utility costs, she excels at managing their energy and event programs.
“Marcia is the driving force behind all energy management and facility coordination for events,” says Jennifer DuPlessis, Executive Director of Operations at Wylie ISD. And with her experience and the right technology, this school district sure has made a difference when it comes to managing energy.
In 2008, all Texas school districts were required to track and report utility usage and costs, and that’s when they turned to Utility Direct by Dude Solutions.
“It’s a very simplistic system and provided an easy way to enter that data,” Jennifer says. “With a few short years, as energy management became more robust, it didn’t provide some of the more in-depth analytics that school districts need to measure.”
Marcia and Jennifer saw the opportunity to take the next step on their energy journey and shift some funds from a third-party contractor to invest in Energy Manager, Dude Solutions’ next generation solution for energy management. This allowed what started as a requirement around energy management to grow into many savings opportunities for Wylie ISD.
“It was a great benefit to us versus working with another contractor to attempt to provide that information,” Jennifer says. “It was our answer for how we can upload bills, we can pull reports, we can automate reports and we can do the analysis we want to do pretty easily – without taking time from people who are already tasked with other things.”
“As you start to evolve as an energy manager, you start connecting the dots,” Marcia says. “You’re only as good as the information you put in the [energy management] system. Energy Manager helped us make sure that data was more accurate. The reporting feature is what blew me away with how beneficial it is.”
After switching from Utility Direct to Energy Manager, they immediately saw the benefits. One thing they realized early on was they were able to prove use and cost reductions more clearly.
“We can budget within Energy Manager in advance. It helps us to build a budget based on historical usage, as well as anticipated construction. Then, we can better diagnose issues at campuses.”
The ease of use was critical, as well.
“The reporting and the ease of the reporting was much more organic — and that’s what we needed,” she says.
If you understand energy management 101, it’s really easy to use.
It was also critically important to Marcia that she get to spend time truly managing energy instead of just entering bills or data. “Once you’ve got everything set up on the bill entry side, it really takes a fraction of time to enter it. That has made it much more flexible,” she says.
Reporting, conservation and savings go hand in hand for Wylie ISD – and Energy Manager helps them connect those facets. “Some of the things that we want to know is year-over-year, how are we doing?” Jennifer says. “Ten to fifteen years ago, our [electricity and water] costs were three to four times what they are now. Cost alone doesn’t tell us the whole story. We want to look at our usage and demand.” Looking at their utility and energy data, here are some outstanding results: • 20% reduction in electricity use from 2015-2019 with LED lighting project (10.89 to 8.61 kWh/sq. ft.)
One of the ways that Wylie ISD has promoted energy savings is through their month-long Cool Choices- The Wylie Way Game energy savings competition. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, more than 300 employees participated to complete energy-saving actions as teams. This has helped Wylie ISD see a 10-30% reduction in energy usage during the competition each year, and it helped them win the 2019 State Energy Project of the Year by Texas Energy Managers Association (TEMA).
“Our staff is starting to see the bigger picture, that everything I do as a building occupant does have an effect on its efficiency,” Marcia says. “Before Energy Manager, I was working a lot in Excel spreadsheets. Now I can pull that from Energy Manager in seconds. Having those reports and graphs is elevating the conversation and moving us to be a much more sustainable district than before.”
Another award-winning project at Wylie ISD was implementing single-stream recycling. The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling awarded Wylie ISD the Linda B. Smith Memorial Award for Outstanding Environmental Youth Education and Outreach Program Honorable Mention for its single-stream and food waste recovery initiatives.
Marcia says she couldn’t complete projects like this or own energy management holistically without the help of her Green Team. The Green Team is an energy committee composed of a representative from each of their buildings. They meet periodically to discuss energy initiatives.
“The Green Team’s goal is to foster awareness and influence subtle, but effective behavioral practices that relate to utility consumption. The more money we save in utility costs means there is more money for the classroom,” Marcia says.
Marcia uses reporting from Energy Manager to inform the Green Team and the school board through periodic reports.
“It’s been great having the tools available to me to educate our energy committee and move away from talking about dollars and total consumption to how efficient we are,” Marcia says. “Energy Manager allows you to answer critical questions like ‘what are we doing right?’”
“Ultimately, our goal with our board is to communicate a sense of fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers,” Marcia says. “If we can do our part at impacting our energy demand and usage, there’s more money that translates to programs, teachers and salaries and maintaining that momentum of being a top-rated school district.”
Jennifer says this is all a part of Marcia’s goal to create a culture of conservation at Wylie.
“Marcia has created a culture here that this is what we do. We do it because we make the right decisions for the kids and the community,” Jennifer says.
Marcia recently attended virtual Dude University (the virtual version of our annual user conference) and left with new ideas for how they want to use Energy Manager in the future, including:
Marcia says they’ve decided to continue to work with Dude Solutions because of the innovation and partnership.
“We’ve used Energy Manager because I’ve seen [Dude Solutions’] commitment to improving the products and making them much more robust,” Marcia says. “If there is something that isn’t in the system, we can pitch it to the Dude Solutions staff and have them investigate it.”
Jennifer echoes that by saying: “It’s nice to feel like we have a good solution, but we also have a good partner.”