GP2W: Marion Thomas

"GP2W" stands for Great Place To Work.  The four characters serve as a reminder in communication among our staff of the culture of our district. Each week through the school year, our website will feature an article on one of our schools, departments, or people explaining how they make SDPC a Great Place To Work! 

by Dr. Bill Roach, Assistant Superintendent of Administration

The childhood song "This Little Light of Mine" has a whole new meaning under the leadership of Marion Thomas, the SDPC Energy Manager.

MT.jpgMarion is truly dedicated to the SDPC and helping to find creative ways to save energy and ultimately save the District money. Marion worked hard during the 2013-14 school year with school energy conservation teams. When Marion was asked about the savings for the 2013-14 school year, he was modest as always. "Overall we should be very pleased with the results. As you know we suffered through one of the coldest winters on record, and we also endured rate increases of up to 12 percent from our providers," he said. "With all that, costs were still down slightly over last year. That 12 percent increase alone would have cost the District another $432,000 last year if we had not worked together to conserve."

When converting the old Pickens High School into the new Pickens Middle School, Marion saw a perfect opportunity to be proactive and try to save the District money. Marion worked with Net Zero USA to replace the traditional lights in the gym with a more energy efficient solution. This one decision at one school cut the energy consumption in the gym in half.

One goal Marion has is to decrease the amount spent on energy each year. In reference to the Pickens Middle School gym project Marion said, "We reduced our lighting cost by 60 percent, saving over $7,000 thanks to the lighting upgrades, and that 60 percent savings figure takes into account a 12 percent annual rate increase from Duke Energy this last school year." Not only does this save the SDPC money in the short term, but this savings is estimated to be close to $55,000 over a five year time span.

Marion has worked for our district for over 14 years, and he continues to seek innovative ways to save energy and ultimately money. This year the Operations Department will be installing rain sensors on all the sprinkler systems. They also will be installing test software at a couple of SDPC schools to control the lights. As another energy conservation effort, Marion is researching possible funding sources to upgrade different operating systems within the SDPC to help make them more energy efficient. Marion was asked why it was so important to find possible funding sources. He responded, "The energy companies are looking for another 4.9 percent increase. It will become increasingly important to redouble our efforts on energy management to avoid these increases coming from education dollars."

Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage states, "Instead of trying to become smarter, leaders and organizations need to shift their focus to becoming healthier, allowing them to tap into the more-than-sufficient intelligence and expertise they already have." The School District of Pickens County thanks Marion for his intelligence and expertise within the field of energy management.