In K-12 School Districts, energy costs are second to
personnel costs totaling approximately 8 billion dollars annually. With a
constant growing environment and limited budgets, it becomes crucial for
districts to be informed of the many new methods of conserving energy as that
is the cheapest means for balancing energy costs and supply.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Sustainable
Energy Conference at NC State University. Several professionals shared their
experienced knowledge and best practices among the attendees in regards to
advanced building solutions and presented valuable information about increasing
In one of the first classes the presenter stated that “today’s
new buildings become existing buildings tomorrow.” It is important to plan, collect data and be
cautious of how you’re going to operate your new buildings and use these
findings to help improve your existing buildings.
What kind of benefits would you have on implementing an
energy conservation plan prior to building a new High Performance Building?
What factors would you look at for building a school that produces substantial
energy while also being economically beneficial and cost effective?
ENERGY STAR labeled products: Require newer buildings to purchase ENERGY STAR
labeled products and existing buildings within your district to do the same for
replacement purchases. This can improve
your energy consumption by at least 20%.
For example, an ENERGY STAR dishwasher for a cafeteria kitchen not only
reduces energy cost but also helps reduce water consumption by decreasing the
amount of water that enters the wastewater system.
building a new building, pay attention to detail: Before construction of your High Performance Building,
you will want to collect data on baseline, predicted and actual energy
usage. In a case study given by Wake
County Public Schools, they had $85,796 avoided cost and a 36% reduction over
baseline energy usage. Although
successful, they still reported that they ran into some common mistakes when
predicting their energy usage. It is important to not miss small details such
as inaccurate hours of usage, number of occupants, and unpredicted plug loads.
Ensure you will have appropriate metering and sub metering in your buildings,
make full use of your Building Automation System, and look at a snapshot of
your progress frequently to confirm you are not missing the small details.
3. Raise awareness: Leadership plays a key role in the development of your High
Performance Building. Raise awareness by
training your maintenance staff on equipment warranties and procedures to
ensure preventive maintenance is being done, and add energy conservation in lesson
plans to educate students. By demonstrating responsible use of public resources
and providing education on energy efficiency, you set an example for the
students, staff, and community to follow.
Reduced energy cost turns into saved tax dollars!
recognize your success: Stay driven and constantly support and congratulate
any met goals for energy efficiency.
While it is important to stay internally supportive, you can achieve
third party awards from ENERGY STAR.
Buildings that have earned an ENERY STAR label have averaged 40% less
energy compared to a conventional building.
Now, that is something to celebrate!
Implementing energy conservation in schools, you could cut
20-40% of your energy costs, leaving money for other educational
urgencies. Whether you are in the
process of planning the construction of new schools or you have existing
schools, what are you doing to decrease energy costs and usage? We would love
to hear your experiences!