Finding Budget Where Budget Doesn't Exist: Utilizing Smart Energy Management in Schools to Free Up Capital

K-12 schools spend countless resources on education and facilities, and energy costs in K-12 schools are second only to staffing costs. Typical staffing costs include custodial workers, administrative staff and facility management team members. Even supplies fall further down on the list of K-12 expenses than energy costs, and with districts facing scrutiny for energy use, following the Better Building’s Initiative, notes the U.S. Department of Energy, school leaders need to know how utilizing smart energy management in schools can increase budget without securing funding from other parties.

What’s Wrong With the Status Quo?

The status quo of energy management is built on an antiquated principle of running until it breaks and simply turning systems off when unnecessary. The problem arises when modern systems are brought online, and their basic functions are much more advanced than an on-off switch. Today's systems have extensive capabilities for reporting, and they can generate significant savings when operated on a flexible schedule. In other words, turning a system on or off is not enough to generate savings.

Comprehensive Energy Management Impacts the Budget

Implementing an energy management program is a critical concern for managing the budget. How can schools with limited resources implement a modern system to track and reduce energy use? The answer lies in taking advantage of programs to secure funding and choosing systems built on payment models that require minimal if any, upfront investment.

For instance, Cenergistic’s payment model is designed to recapture energy costs, and a fraction of those costs saved are paid to Cenergistic. Thus, the entire program launches without excessive investment costs.

Now, a key concern for implementation still exists. Analytics may reveal problems with school assets, requiring maintenance. As a result, short-term spending may increase. However, expenses are offset by cost avoidance.

Cost avoidance refers to the savings achieved by reducing the future spending that would have occurred if system settings and runtime were left unchecked. It is key to the savings profile for utilizing smart energy management in schools. Although it is often associated with predictive analytics, it is essential to consider the impact of energy use behaviors on energy costs as well.

The best systems can only go so far for reducing energy costs, but greater savings are possible through conservative energy use behaviors. As students and faculty look for areas of value leakage, such as lights left running or drafty windows, new opportunities for cost avoidance become evident.

Tips for Utilizing Smart Energy Management in Schools

The best-laid plans for energy management depend on a robust program that tackles both energy costs and use behaviors. According to Forbes, an energy management program opens the door to automated demand response programs with utility companies, which may lower per-unit rates for energy. Meanwhile, benefits of energy conservation and cost avoidance in the school lead to changes in energy use behaviors in communities, furthering the goal of a sustainable future. To streamline the use of an energy management platform, follow these simple tips:

  • Connect assets to an energy management platform.
  • Know expected versus actual energy use and savings.
  • Leverage analytics to reduce maintenance spend.
  • Use visualization tools to “see” the benefits of smart energy management.
  • Get staff and students involved in energy conservation.
  • Work with an expert that understands the unique needs of your buildings, such as the Cenergistic Energy Specialist.

Augment Your Budget With the Right Energy Management Program Now

Schools will always face budgeting constraints, and pressure to do more with less will remain. Fortunately, districts can begin utilizing smart energy management in schools to augment capital planning and proactively manage expenses. Find out more about how your district can leverage smart energy management to improve budgeting by visiting Cenergistic online or calling 1-855-798-7779.

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