State energy offices should consider utilizing energy management resources provided by Energy Star for K-12 school districts. By partnering with Energy Star, states can use established benchmarking methods to compile energy data from school districts, and direct energy efficiency funding towards the districts that would benefit most from installations. Similarly, districts can target the most inefficient schools.
For example, the Arizona energy office has undertaken a state-wide initiative to assist schools with benchmarking and provide information to help schools achieve an Energy Star rating. The Washington Elementary School District in Arizona, which comprises 32 campuses, used the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to collect baseline energy data and energy ratings for each campus. Based on the data, the facility manager allocated funds for lighting retrofits to the most inefficient campuses. The district is currently on target to save $700,000 this year because of its efforts. The program has engaged faculty and students in the energy saving process. After the district devised an energy policy based on the Energy Star energy management guide, each campus drafted a custom energy plan, with the goal of reducing energy consumption by 10% this year. The benchmarking data allow schools to keep a running tally of their progress, which has spurred a healthy competition between schools to determine which conserves the most energy.
A fully committed district facility manager is the key to implementing an Energy Star benchmarking program. Collaboration between district facility managers and the state energy office helps to ensure that energy efficiency measures are implemented by quality contractors using all available incentives. Everyone involved in retrofits needs to understand that energy efficiency improvements require system engineering, not just equipment replacement. For example, think about heating systems, not just boiler retrofits, to capture large gains by combining controls, distribution and heat radiation, and other elements. Smart engineered retrofits are essential to achieve full energy savings potential.
For schools with central heating systems, heating system upgrades can be a particularly rich source of energy savings. Condensing boilers operate at low entering water temperatures compared to conventional hot water and steam boilers, which allows them to supply light heating loads very efficiently. Along with the ability to adjust output temperature as heating demand decreases, low-temperature condensing boilers reduce safety hazards associated with conventional boiler systems. Recent studies have shown condensing boiler systems to use 50 percent less gas than conventional hot water heating systems and almost 70 percent less energy than steam boilers. While one study estimates the premium for condensing boilers, the core of the retrofit, to be around 140 percent, the same study estimates their payback vs. steam boilers to be 1.2 years and payback vs. conventional hot water boilers to be 2.9 years.
Energy offices should consider utilizing energy saving performance contracts as a financing tool for schools that wish to implement energy efficiency measures identified in the benchmarking process. FMI on energy saving performance contracts
FMI on Boiler System Efficiency
Note: Content is copyrighted American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Published in ASHRAE Journal (Vol. 48, July 2006). Go to www.ashrae.org for more information.
AZ Energy Office Contact: Jim Westberg: 602-542-0006
Read about more exemplary schools programs: ACEEE’s Compendium of Champions