Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ten Schools Leveraging Energy Efficiency to Save Money

Schools from California to New Jersey are benefiting from their investments in energy efficiency.The economics of things like HVAC retrofits and lighting upgrades are hard to dispute. This is a market driven trend that is sure to keep growing as schools are forced to do more with less resources. Power saving opportunities abound for schools at every level ranging from elementary to post secondary. Here are ten examples of schools that are saving money while reducing their carbon footprints..

The Boulder Valley School District in Colorado has leveraged energy efficiency and gleaned a 52 percent saving. As reported by Energy Manager Today, this amounts to a $170,000 annual windfall. Rebates from Xcel, the utility that serves the district, will be more than $300,000. The project will minimize power requirements by providing a 20 percent reduction in energy per square foot by 2019.

In the last decade the Boulder Valley School District has forged a path that is leading the way for energy efficient schools. In 2009 the district began investing in an ambitious project that started with a plan called the Sustainability Management System (SMS).  In 2013 the plan was refined with the addition of the Sustainability Energy Plan (SEP) that instituted time-frames and established goals. As indicated in the 2017 Boulder Valley School District Annual Report their goal is to be a zero net energy capable (ZNEC) district by 2050.

Olentangy Local School District in Lewis Center, Ohio, invested in an energy management software and is saving $350,000 per year.  Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth invested in a campus wide energy efficiency project that will save the school more than $12 million over 15 years. It will also reduce the emissions associated with generating 7.2 million kWh of energy annually. A campus wide retrof with highly efficient maintenance free induction lighting is saving Kent State more than $10,000 per year 

The San Marcos Unified School District in San Diego is optimizing its energy management system, replacing HVAC equipment and performing lighting upgrades. The combined energy savings from the 18 campuses will be more than 1 million kWh annually which is a savings of more than $170,000 per year. San Diego's Vista Unified School District will also save money now that its Energy Expenditure Plan has been approved by the California Energy Commission.

California's Hacienda la Puente Unified School District's investments in energy efficiency are expected to save about $818,000 annually. Since 2010 the district has been working on improving efficiency that includes modern lighting and upgraded HVAC and HVAC controls. The district has kept capital costs down by ensuring that their energy performance contracts put the expense onus on the vendors.

Schools are increasingly looking to energy savings performance contracts (ESPC) such as the one signed between Lawrence County Schools in Moulton Alabama and Schneider Electric. The deal is expected to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent. This amounts to a total of $11.7 million in energy savings. The 20 year ESPC will help the district to fund upgrades including lighting and automation in all 19 of its buildings. The South Lane School District in Oregon has also signed and ESPC that is expected to save money and shrink the districts carbon footprint.

Many schools do an energy audit to help them craft efficiency strategies that both reduce their costs and slash their carbon footprints. The Pequannock Board of Education is running energy audits to identify and improve efficiency.  In consort with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities' (BPU) Clean Energy Program the board is participating in the Local Government Energy Audit (LGEA). As reported by NorthJersey.com, this is part of the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) that compares the cost savings from the audit with the costs of efficiency upgrades.

Not all energy audits demand massive capital outlays. In 2017 the Greensburg Salem School District in Pennsylvania did an energy audit that concluded the district required only minor adjustments like the installation of LED lighting. No major upgrades or retrofits were suggested. However, the district may have to go forward with upgrades as the plumbing and electrical systems will soon need to be replaced.

Stay tuned for more green school information and resources. From August until the end of October, the Green Market Oracle will feature weekly posts as part of the 2018 edition of the Green School Series which includes links to almost 400 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources 2010 - 2017
11 Examples of Energy and Cost Savings at K-12 Schools in the US

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