Why Is an Energy Management Audit Program Vital in Education Facilities?
By Jack Bullock
Chief Engineer, PE, CEM, BESA
An energy management audit program refers to the use of analytics and real-time energy data tracking to unlock the secrets within the school district's assets, their energy use, how occupant behaviors affect energy costs and much more. Education Facilities Managers need to understand the challenges of reduced visibility in education energy management, how they relate to visibility, how audits improve energy use behaviors and their benefits.
The Problem With Poor Energy Visibility in Education Facilities
The challenges of energy management in education facilities revolve around poor visibility into school buildings and energy use behaviors. As explained by Cameron Steel via LinkedIn, rising energy costs and climate change are forcing every industry to revisit its energy management programs, and schools are no exception.
School districts without visibility into energy use may be paying more for basic utilities. They may have left money on the table by not applying for incentive programs and funding sources for energy-efficient improvements. In addition, poor visibility into energy use means school assets may be malfunctioning that hasn't contributed to an actual disruption yet. At the same time, such malfunctions effectively increase the risk of fire and significant health problems among students and faculty. So, it is in the best interest of everyone to gain better visibility into education facilities by conducting an energy management audit program.
An Energy Management Audit Program Improves Energy Use Behaviors
An energy management audit program is much more than a one-time review of energy use behaviors and asset conditions. It is a recurring sequence that involves the continuous analysis of energy use data and recognition of student and occupant actions affecting energy use, and therefore, energy costs. Before making changes to an energy management program, including the creation of such a program, education Facilities Managers need to know where the greatest value lies and how to implement changes successfully.
Making necessary changes in facility assets may guarantee small savings, but some investments, like monitoring and improving maintenance of the HVAC system through an ongoing energy management audit program, can effectively increase ROI of the HVAC system by up to 103 percent, explains Fiona Burlig of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, via Forbes. Combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, education Facility Managers can prioritize energy use programs to reap the most significant savings.
The audit program targets the end-users of energy, including students, administrators, business staff, Facilities Managers, teachers, and even school board members, asserts the U.S. Department of Energy. Everyone involved in the school plays a role in energy use and costs, so knowing the exact data for energy use and the factors affecting it will have resounding benefits.
Financial Benefits Realized Through an Audit Program
The financial benefits of an energy management audit program are extensive, including:
Implementation of energy-efficient behavior modification programs that drive long-term energy conservation among students during and well after graduation. This awareness training impacts the entire community, which may benefit from lower energy rates, creating a self-propagating cycle to lower energy costs and conserve energy in schools even further.
Benchmarking of current energy use to understand zones in schools that are wasting energy or using it in excess.
Creating a checklist to ensure all maintenance needs are met, reducing the operating budget and providing accuracy in reporting for maintenance, while still reducing energy costs.
Better use of labor resources, allowing schools to focus on what matters—providing the best learning experience possible, which will naturally attract more students to the district and funding from government and other sources.
Immediate reductions in energy use without upfront investment costs.
Detailed reports to prove the value of an energy management program or other energy-efficient upgrades, which are required to maintain eligibility for incentive programs and funding.
Begin Your Energy Management Audit
The energy management audit is the first real opportunity education Facilities Managers may have to understand what is and is not working in current energy management initiatives and how to devise a cost-saving program. The audit will also effectively reduce maintenance spend, increase asset longevity and build better student-faculty relationships. Take advantage of the benefits of an energy management audit program now by contacting Cenergistic today.