A conservation program has greatly reduced energy costs in the Athens Area School District over the past six years, officials told the district's board of education last week.

Since the district's enrollment in the Energy Education program in April 2006, the district has reduced its energy costs by $2.3 million, or 36 percent, according to Ron Fritz, a technology education teacher at Athens Area High School who also serves as the district's energy manager.

The company, now called Cenergistic, assists school districts, colleges and like organizations with technology and strategies to reduce their energy costs.

The district's expected electric, water, sewer and gas costs over the period of participating in the program have been reduced from $6,375,605 to $4,075,605, Fritz said.

The savings has also had a positive impact on the environment, with the district cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 3,137 metric tons, equivalent to taking 654 cars off the road, Fritz said.

The district has also completed several projects to reduce energy use, most recently the installation of an energy-friendly cover for the high school's pool last May. The project has resulted in a 57 percent decrease in the use of natural gas for heating the pool, a 7 percent reduction in water and 4 percent in electric use. District officials plan to make changes to further reduce those numbers, Fritz said.

The district is number one in the state out of 17 participating districts for energy savings, but Fritz said there's still more to be done. In the northeast region, the Athens Area School District is seventh out of about 90 clients.

The effort is district-wide, with employees at all buildings shutting their computers down at night, turning off lights and taking other measures to reduce their energy usage.

"Everyone is involved in the program," Fritz told board members. "Everyone takes a part."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.