Oak Park and River Forest High School is going 100 percent green for the next three years after District 200 switched energy suppliers — a move that district officials say should mean significant savings over that time period. 

“When we compare 100 percent of the renewable energy pricing with our existing brown energy-only pricing, the district will realize an approximately 24 percent savings,” said Carolyn M. Gust, the D200’s director of purchasing and transportation, during a regular board meeting on Oct. 24.

Gust estimated that the district’s switch from its old energy supplier, Vanguard Services, to mc2 Energy could mean a savings of $153,000 over the three years of the contract. 

Gust added that making the switch to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, translates into the district avoiding the equivalent of 617 homes’ worth of electricity use, 751 passenger vehicles driven, more than 3 million pounds of coal burned or more than 154,000 bags of trash landfilled — in a single year.  

Last month, the D200 school board allowed the administration to utilize Narnia Energy Advisers to facilitate a live reverse auction on Oct. 9. Unlike a sealed, or blind, bid process, which entails companies submitting requests for proposals without knowing their competitors’ prices, a live reverse auction allows companies to bid for a contract in real time and to even make multiple bids within a given time period. 

During the live reverse auction for D200’s electricity supply and procurement, 41 bids came in from nine different suppliers. The district directed the suppliers to only submit pricing for 100 percent green energy. Vanguard did not submit a bid. Mc2 Energy was the lowest bidder. As part of the live reverse auction process, the district signed a contract with Mc2 immediately after the auction. 

During the Oct. 24 regular meeting, D200 board member Craig Iseli asked if the district has a sustainability policy on the books. 

Michael Carioscio, D200’s chief operations officer, said the district has a resource conservation policy, “which talks about composting, reducing waste” and other issues. Carioscio said that the facility renovations and new construction that will start next summer as part of the district’s long-term facilities process are opportunities for D200 to renew its commitment to sustainability. 

“There’s an intervention coming with our new construction, which has given us an opportunity to really look at a lot of our practices that went unquestioned in the past and to do things differently,” Carioscio said. “This is an opportunity to correct things that over time drifted from where they should be.” 

Iseli said that he would like the district to be more systematic in its approach to environmental sustainability. 

“If we’re going to support green initiatives, I’d like for us not to do it in an ad hoc way,” he said. “I’d like for us to have a policy that drives it [and] to report on that policy.”

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com  

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