Feeling The Heat - Facility Executive Magazine - Creating Intelligent Buildings

Schools look to reduce energy costs through facility improvements.

Schools look to reduce energy costs through facility improvements.

Feeling The Heat

Feeling The Heat - Facility Executive Magazine - Creating Intelligent Buildings

With the official start of winter on the horizon, schools across the country are firing up boilers to keep their buildings warm and comfortable. However, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% of the energy used in schools is wasted due to inefficient buildings, equipment, and operations. This drains an estimated $1.5 billion annually from the nation’s schools, enough money to hire 30,000 teachers.

After salaries, utility costs are typically the second largest budget item, and the most controllable expense, confronting schools. That’s why administrators are trying to reduce energy consumption and better predict future needs. At the same time, a growing awareness about the effects of global warming has many schools looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and serve as models of energy conservation. Honeywell is trying to help on both fronts, providing a range of services and technology designed to reduce schools’ utility bills and environmental footprint. This is possible through infrastructure upgrades—including new, high efficiency boilers—and more innovative solutions like wind turbines and solar panels.

Since 2006, Honeywell has assisted several U.S. school districts with energy and operational savings (expected to total more than $153 million). The savings are primarily achieved through energy performance contracts, which allow schools to fund facility improvements through the energy and operating savings the upgrades produce over a specified time frame, typically 10 to 20 years. Honeywell guarantees the results so the work usually doesn’t impact budgets or require additional taxpayer dollars. Combining all active performance contracts, the company is helping hundreds of districts save nearly $372 million.

“Energy and operating costs drain money from budgets—money that would otherwise go directly toward the classroom,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “However, districts rarely have the capital to overhaul their facilities. Our programs help schools boost efficiency without a significant up front investment.” Honeywell works with schools to develop strategic plans to cut energy costs and emissions, and increase the comfort of classrooms. The company has employed a mix of traditional and renewable conservation measures to that end. Examples include:

Perkins Local School District in Ohio is erecting three 20 kW wind turbines to complement a variety of conventional energy efficiency measures. The turbines will provide more than 10% of the electricity for the middle and high schools. And the overall program is expected to reduce expenses by more than $190,000 each year. The district used the Honeywell Renewable Energy Scorecard, a selection tool that helps pinpoint the technology with the most significant environmental and economic drivers, to identify the right green solution for their needs.

Honeywell has installed solar arrays for school districts in Dixon, Pleasanton, Poway, and Riverdale, CA. These projects are expected to save the districts millions in energy costs. They also will cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 4.3 million pounds and nitrous oxide emissions by almost 4,000 pounds. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to removing more than 460 cars from the road or planting 575 acres of trees.

“The fact that going green also provided a financial advantage was very attractive to us,” said Elaine Cash, superintendent of Riverdale Joint Unified School District. “Our solar project with Honeywell will maximize our budget resources while maintaining clean, sustainable schools.”

Along with tapping renewable resources, typical improvements include replacing and upgrading heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) equipment, installing centralized building automation systems, replacing outdated fixtures with energy efficient lighting, tightening building envelopes through new windows and doors, and upgrading electrical systems. 

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