How School Districts Can Earn an A+ in Summer School: Invest in Students, Not Energy Costs

K-12 students have shouldered some of the pandemic’s greatest burdens. From five- or six-year-olds forced to develop critical social interaction skills over Zoom to seniors having to skip time-honored homecoming, prom and graduation traditions, students of all ages have faced their fair share of challenges during COVID-19.

With life slowly returning back to normal, many districts are expecting record high enrollment in summer programs this year in order to make up for time lost in the classroom. To accommodate for this surge in demand, districts will need to open additional buildings and have classrooms, lunchrooms and other facilities running for longer hours, or even extra weeks, during the hot summer months. This means districts will have to allocate a greater share of already-strained budgets on higher summer school energy costs at a time of year when these expenses typically decrease.

There is, of course, no better investment we can make than in our students. Implementing an energy conservation program is one of the best ways to ensure districts have the funds to do so.

Achieving Savings and Safety

Focusing on energy conservation means eliminating wasteful energy spend. This includes everything from small to significant behavioral steps, like unplugging devices when students leave for the day, to reviewing when and what kitchen equipment is being turned on each day to making sure all systems are functioning properly — and adjusting the process if they’re not being used as efficiently as possible. Over time, implementing an energy conservation program to address issues can save millions of dollars, and enable districts to re-allocate money toward investments in students and teachers.

The added benefit? Sustainable schools are also healthier schools, which is more important now than ever before.

This is because many energy conservation practices also ensure healthier buildings for occupants. For example, a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system not performing at its designed standards costs a lot more to operate — but that also means it is not properly circulating filtered air through your school building.

Surveying your buildings and conducting an audit with your facilities team before summer school to make sure current systems are up to standard is one of the best steps district leaders can take ahead of welcoming students.

Getting Started Quickly

Do small changes over time really make a difference? Yes, but how quickly schools are able to realize these savings is dependent on the approach they take.

It all begins with a district’s facilities management team. These employees know the ins and outs of school buildings better than anyone else and are critical to long-term energy conservation success. The challenge, however, is that facilities teams are historically over-burdened. This is especially true during the summer months when schools may operate with skeleton staff.

It is therefore critical that facilities teams are provided the resources and manpower they need to succeed. On-the-ground energy specialists — who work in partnership with facility teams — can provide this lift. By taking over the day-to-day equipment and building inspections and monitoring, energy specialists allow time for facility staffers to focus on preventive maintenance, repairs and other proactive actions.

Having the right technology in place is also essential to success, as it enables real-time energy optimization. Consider what would happen if a faulty heating or air conditioning unit in an athletic facility ran uninterrupted for months during the off-season. That could negate the benefits of energy conservation efforts taking place in the school’s cafeteria. Leveraging cloud-based, hand-held technology, districts can see the current running conditions of their entire enterprise and ensure any inefficiency can be triaged immediately.

[Curious to learn more about how it works? This blog breaks it all down.]

Energy Conservation in Action

Schools, universities and other organizations that have partnered with Cenergistic over the years to save money through their energy conservation program have seen substantially lower utility bills compared to summer months in previous years - but don't just take our word for it. 

To prove the efficacy of energy conservation, we ran simulations in multiple regions across the United States to compare historical data against what happens when energy conservation programs are implemented for three weeks over the summer school term.

To ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, we simulated data that assumed summer school sites were 50,000 square feet, 50% occupied and ran five days a week. We also accounted for plug-load, lighting and HVAC operations, among other factors. We ultimately found that:

  • In California, energy consumption dropped to 33,574 kwh. That is a 65.38% decrease from the historical consumption of 97,000 kwh.
  • In North Carolina, energy consumption in schools decreased by 86%.
  • Schools in Tennessee saw a 77.04% drop in energy consumption.
  • Finally, Wisconsin schools reduced energy usage by 25%

Put simply, increasing summer school enrollment does not have to mean higher energy costs. Rather, there are steps every district can take today to control energy costs and increase investment in students and teachers.

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To learn more about how Cenergistic can help reduce your energy consumption during the upcoming summer months, contact us for more information at 1-855-798-7779 or visit Cenergistic.com.

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