When assessing energy options for a school facility, there are many factors that need to be taken into account. The safety of the students, teachers and faculty is certainly a primary consideration, as is the need to find a solution that is compatible with the tightly controlled budget that school districts are used to working with. Many school districts across the country are discovering the benefits of natural gas, which is rapidly proving to demonstrate advantages that make it very attractive to school facilities.
Pound for pound, natural gas is one of the most efficient energy solutions for schools, all else being equal. Public Service Electrical & Gas company outlined some of the many benefits of natural gas across several categories. Natural gas is great for the environment, not only burning cleanly and without releasing pollutants into the atmosphere but also without leaving soot, ash or other residue that commonly follow other forms of combustion. Also, because the gas is pumped directly to the facility from the provider, administrators and grounds managers don't have to worry about storing reserves of natural gas on-site, and the potential logistical and safety concerns that could raise. As an added bonus, energy company Alagasco's website reported that natural gas-powered machinery often works even when electrical power has been lost, providing extra reliability and peace of mind.
Natural gas being taken to school
School districts have recently been exploring further application of natural gas as a means to beef up energy efficiency even further. The Tallahassee Democrat reported an initiative being undertaken by the Charlotte County public school district and energy company Nopetro to convert its fleet of school buses to run on compressed natural gas. The conversion from diesel to CNG-powered buses is estimated to save the district $1 million on bus operating costs.
The Environmental Protection Agency grants school districts with its coveted ENERGY STAR certification for maximizing energy efficiency efforts. According to the EPA's official site, in order for a school building to receive the ENERGY STAR designation, it must score in the top 25 percent across the nation in terms of energy efficiency, and the EPA-sponsored initiative to introduce CNG-powered buses is a big part of helping districts reach that distinction.
The decision to replace diesel buses with newer CNG vehicles requires administrators to take stock of their current fleet for age and maintenance condition. According to the EPA, buses that were manufactured prior to 1998 present the greatest benefit to schools in terms of replacement, as these older models are guilty of the highest emissions levels.