Across the country, heat waves abound. In our homes, I’m sure we all feel the effects with our monthly energy bill skyrocketing. Similarly, schools feel the effects in their energy usage and costs as HVAC systems are working overtime to keep students and staff cool.
Energy is top of mind in the summer months, but school facilities’ energy usage should be evaluated regularly, not just during the Summer. Why?
- Most of your operating budget goes to energy! According to the Department of Energy, K-12 schools spend more than $8 Billion annually on energy, the 2nd largest expenditure in your operations budget.
2) As a facilities leader, you know the condition of facilities has a huge impact on the teaching and learning environment. Energy impacts comfort in the classroom, including air quality, temperature, etc.
As schools and districts look to cut energy usage and costs and improve the classroom environment, the key is data. Your monthly usage and bill does not show trends or unusual spikes. Benchmarking and trend data are critical to better manage your energy usage. By tracking energy usage at a more granular level, schools know where they’ve been to better know where they should go. Below are just some examples of what you can do with this data, available through an energy tracking and management solution.
- Identify billing errors and/or water leaks early to save money.
- Compare energy usage over time. Did July 2016’s electric and water bill stay consistent with July 2015's bill?
- Compare energy usage by building to aid in decision-making. For example, after-hours and community events can shift to take place in more energy-efficient buildings…once you have the data.
- Implement an energy savings program with the data you have available. Awareness alone helps reduce usage.
- Justify changes to Administrators or Supervisors. Does your energy and facilities department want to implement new software, purchase consultative services, or complete retrofits? With data in hand, you can prove why these decisions will lower energy costs over time.
- Better plan for future construction as you learn how best to build facilities to maximize energy efficiency.
Information leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to wisdom, but the first step is collecting the energy data already available at your institution. Energy tracking software can help as well as other new initiatives and data techniques. School Business Affairs’ article, Big Data for Energy Efficiency and District Administration’s article, Schools build for the future provide additional tips.
But let’s get back to the importance of this - the mission of our schools and how you as a
facilities and energy leader impact that: Provide a safe, secure and healthy school environment to create the next leaders of America
. Student comfort, health, and achievement are all tied to the facilities
, so how can we make the facilities the best they can be?
Register for our upcoming webinar, Healthy and Safe Schools: Impact on the Learning Environment, presented by facilities management expert Jim Whittaker as he discusses how to address the challenge for facilities leaders to protect the school environment.