Denmark-Olar schools first choice
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Three Bamberg School District Two Schools (Denmark-Olar) have the distinction of being the first schools in the state to undergo a test energy audit. “Our goal is to promote energy efficiency and promote environmental literacy across the state,” said Jennifer Asman, Program Coordinator with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina. Asman noted that Phil Mims, of Quanta Lighting and Energy Solutions out of Columbia, SC. has agreed to do a walk through lighting audit through the Denmark-Olar Schools.

“I want to showcase how receptive they are for making these schools energy efficient,” Asman added. Asman noted that more energy efficient schools also promote a healthier learning environment, which helps to raise attendance rates. Denmark-Olar School District Two Superintendent Dr. Thelma Sojourner said she was “excited” when she received notice the League of Conservation Voters would be working with the Denmark-Olar Schools.

“We thought this would be an exceptional opportunity to make some difference in our schools,” Dr. Sojourner said, adding that savings in energy conservation could be used for materials and supplies for children. Sojourner noted that the health piece of the program was also exciting to the district and could be fit in with other health initiatives the district has in place.

“We’re talking about student achievement and accountability. With cost as high as they are now, not having to pay as much for energy, we’re excited they came to our district.

House District 90 Representative Bakari Sellers, who was on hand for the announcement of the audit, said there was no better place than in Denmark to begin taking some steps forward under Dr. Sojourner’s leadership. “ For me it’s about saving money and being on the forefront of something positive and being able to move our school district forward, which is what we’ve talked about for the last five or six years so it’s another notch another step.

It’s a good first step to take, saving tax payers dollars and making the school more attractive.”

Phil Mims of Quanta Lighting and Energy Solutions said the district could realize 50-60 percent in energy savings once the new equipment is installed and in two and a half to three years the pay back in the new technology could cut the cost of the old system by 30 to 40 percent.

John Jarratt, Senior Account Manager-Project at SCE&G, who the other agencies are looking to partner with said SCE&G has a demand side management program and has rebates that go back to schools and businesses that upgrade their lighting, HVAC and other systems to encourage energy savings to minimize the number of power plants that have to be built in the future.