- Posted by Pam Hoddinott
- On August 25, 2020
As the new academic year starts, schools are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The usual budget constraints, coupled with new levels of building safety, are proving that long-term cost savings from smart energy management are more important than ever.
In the U.S, K-12 schools spend $6 billion annually on energy bills, which is more than textbooks and computers combined and second only to teacher salaries, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). Reducing energy usage by 20% in these educational facilities would result in energy cost savings of more than $3.3 billion that K-12 schools, colleges, and universities can better spend on educating students.
Making Energy an Asset®
School budgets are tighter, building facility maintenance is essential, and community expectations regarding education are higher than ever. Smarter energy management needs to be added to the curriculum. Schools can start by Making Energy an Asset®. Energy is typically viewed as a cost, but it should be considered an asset that can drive value. Making Energy an Asset® can be achieved by implementing energy efficiency projects within the facilities. Schools then reinvest the energy savings gained from the energy efficiency projects back into the school.
Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
Facilities that are energy efficient enjoy many benefits from lower utility bills to decreased maintenance and an improved carbon footprint. Energy efficiency in schools also provides benefits many may not have considered, such as:
- Increased safety. Many schools are dealing with aging HVAC systems. Having a properly optimized HVAC system is critical for the health and safety of students, teachers, and administrators. Ventilation systems should be operating correctly, and additional steps can be taken to improve the ventilation and air filtration in the school buildings. UV lights within the HVAC system can also provide additional protection to building occupants. Verify that the UV lights are operating as designed.
- Improved learning environment. It is no surprise that proper lighting within a school building provides a positive impact on student productivity. Properly installed LED lighting can provide a better learning environment for students leading to higher test scores and increased productivity. Interior and exterior LED lighting installed at schools can also improve safety and security and provide significant energy savings. The improved lighting provides better visibility for surveillance cameras. A well-lit parking lot provides safety as students exit busses and cars in busy school parking lots. LED emergency lighting within the school building can illuminate the best route to safety.
- Reduced absenteeism. The average daily attendance of students often determines school operating budgets. Because of this, indoor air quality and proper ventilation are especially important in school buildings. Poor air quality can lead to illness and absenteeism. According to a study performed by Washington State, improved indoor air quality can reduce student absenteeism rates by up to 15 percent. Improvement in attendance, even on the smallest scale, can help save schools money.
- Creative financing options. Many creative financing options exist for schools that don’t have the budget for energy efficiency projects. Access to capital for energy projects isn’t always necessary. Energy-as-a Service (EaaS) is an ideal way to implement energy optimization and sustainability solutions within the school facilities without any up-front costs. The EaaS concept is simple. An energy management company would design, install, and maintain the energy efficiency update and monitor its performance, while the school uses the measurable energy savings generated by the energy upgrade to stay cash-flow positive.
Partner with a Professional
Schools have an excellent opportunity to lower energy usage, improve sustainability goals, and improve student and staff safety. It’s essential to partner with an energy management expert who is experienced in the education sector. Chateau Energy Solutions is that partner. We will perform an energy audit of the school facilities and set clear energy efficiency strategies specific to your needs. Based on our learnings, no- and low-cost energy conservation measures will be identified. These energy-saving projects and safety precautions could be new LED lighting, HVAC upgrades, sustainability strategies, and more. These measures will be prioritized and then implemented to optimize energy use and maximize energy assets for the organization.
These energy management strategies can be safely implemented on campus whether a school reopens its classrooms or provides remote learning. The upgrades can be completed after-learning hours or carefully scheduled for when spaces are unoccupied.
Lowing energy usage within schools will not negatively affect learning – just the opposite. Becoming more energy efficient will provide students and faculty a healthier and safer environment.
Review our case studies to see how Chateau Energy Solutions helps the education industry with smart, effective energy management programs and tailored sustainability practices.