An effort to reduce energy usage in the Olentangy Local School District's buildings continues to save dollars.

An effort to reduce energy usage in the Olentangy Local School District's buildings continues to save dollars.

Jeff Gordon, director of business management for the district, earlier this month told school board members the district saved about $590,000 on energy costs in the previous fiscal year.

Gordon said the district determined its savings by comparing energy spending over the last fiscal year with the base year of 2013 -- before the initiative started -- and normalizing for weather.

Olentangy saved more than $400,000 in fiscal year 2014 through conservation and incentive programs after launching the effort partway through the year.

Gordon said an "apples-to-apples" comparison of the district's buildings showed "quite a bit of difference" between the amounts of electric, gas and water used in fiscal years 2013 and 2015. The comparison excluded the Olentangy Academy building in Orange Township because the district did not start leasing the building until September 2014.

Gordon said the initial savings from the effort stem from monitoring energy usage throughout the district. He said workers now have the tools to detect unusual spikes in activity -- such as a pumps kicking on unexpectedly after a power outage -- and react to correct the problem.

"The next step is really getting the human behavior (changed)," he said.

Gordon said the district will see even more savings if it can get its students and staff excited about making sure lights and equipment are turned off when rooms are empty.

Superintendent Mark Raiff said he wants to involve students in the district's environmental clubs in the conservation efforts.

"The kids can be that key to changing adult behavior," he said.

School board President Kevin O'Brien said the district's efforts to monitor equipment could prove even more fruitful if district voters approve a 1-mill permanent-improvement levy in the spring. He said district officials now can tell which pieces are the most inefficient and in need of being replaced.

"Now we've got the data and we can really be focused and prioritize (to) make the right investments," he said.