The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

January 14, 2010

School janitor holds district's power

Harrier recognized for energy savings

DANVILLE — Jack Harrier knows all about flipping people’s switches.

But as District 118’s energy specialist, he uses his feet more than his hands.

“People look at this job and say it’s easy,” said Harrier, who was recognized at Wednesday’s school board meeting for a recent state award naming him an “environmental hero.”

“There’s a lot more to it than just flipping light switches.”

Harrier, also the head janitor at Danville High School, sports a pair of well-worn tennis shoes for his job, which has him continually scouring all of the district’s 13 buildings looking for ways to save energy.

“I put a pedometer on a little while back and at the end of the day I had walked 14 miles,” he said.

It’s earned him the nickname “Cutback Jack,” which he wears proudly as proof his effort to remind teachers, students and other employees to turn off lights and computers when they leave has been received.

And all that walking has paid off in the pocketbook as well. Since the district starting utilizing energy tips from contractor Energy Education four years ago it has saved about $1.2 million in energy costs.

“It’s saved us money we could spend on other things,” said Superintendent Mark Denman. “It’s been very successful. Our district is ahead of the curve.”

The state award, announced through Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, was given to just 22 people. But there have been other accolades, too.

Just this week the high school hung its first-ever Energy Star award, given out by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy to institutions with an energy efficiency rating of 75 out of 100. Only 470 buildings earned the award from more than 17,000 nationally.

In all, 11 of the district’s buildings have been similarly recognized by Energy Star, and Harrier said he has applied for the award for a second year and expects to win again at each building. He said there is already work being done to bring the two remaining buildings up to their energy-savings potential.

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