Energy Reality Check: School Energy Reduction Is More Than a 'Facilities Problem,' Why Superintendents Should Take Notice
Energy and maintenance cost avoidance is possible through sustained energy management and improved energy use behaviors. Superintendents and school board members need to consider why people remain vital to achieving school energy reduction goals.
Why Limiting School Energy Reduction Initiatives to Facilities Managers Falls Short
School energy reduction may appear as a facilities problem, but it is much more involved than that. The best energy-efficiency improvements in the world, including automation, have limitations to the ability to reduce energy use. Since people use energy, not buildings, a program devoted solely to changes in facilities management will always fall short. Thus, superintendents must understand the role of people in driving true energy cost avoidance.
School Energy Reduction Extends Beyond the Facilities Management Department
The conversation for school energy reduction happens around many factors. Assets must perform at optimum levels. Vacancy run time adds to unnecessary expenses. Poor maintenance leads to sub-par performance and higher total cost of ownership. While upgrades may help, encouraging energy conservation contributes to better savings and performance throughout district buildings. In addition, creating an energy management program and a culture of change throughout the entire district footprint will further drive cost avoidance. It is not enough to deploy changes in a single building as the entire use portfolio determines energy use costs.
Additional Ways Superintendents Affect Program Performance.
Superintendents can work to enhance program performance in these critical ways:
Top-Down Behavioral Change Drives Energy Cost Avoidance
A top-down behavioral change encourages energy-efficient use behaviors from those in positions most admirable to staff and students. The hierarchy avoids the appearance of a disjointed program, and it helps everyone to make actionable changes in the school and at home. This builds a community-wide effort to improve sustainability.
Advanced, Easy-to-Use Interfaces and Multi-Layered Data Analytics Appeal to Superintendents and School Board Members.
Advanced dashboards and multi-layered data analytics, including descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics, empower superintendents and Facility Managers to make data-driven decisions.
Demonstrating Data Ensures Continued Support for District-Wide Energy Management
Demonstrating data through changes in energy use behaviors, as well as real-time monitoring and correction of energy anomalies, continues to build support for energy improvement in the district.
Superintendents Leverage Benefits to Reinvest in the Planet, Student Educations, and the District
Improved environmental responsibility. Increased environmental responsibility offers a multi-pronged benefit of both sustainability in the classroom and long-term sustainability practices among staff and students after retirement or graduation.
Increased comfort. When students are comfortable, learning improves. Instead of focusing on being too cold or too hot, students can focus on course objectives, exams, and studies.
Cost reductions due to better maintenance practices. According to Bridget Kellam, Cenergistic Energy Specialist, "I work throughout the week and weekend. I make sure the facilities are well-maintained, especially with the number one challenge changing." Her view emphasizes how better energy performance and saving money for Park Hills Schools, Missouri. In fact, one month's savings at Parkhill during the early rollout were equal to a full year's salary for a teacher.
Keeping School Leaders Involved Builds Long-Term Support for Changes.
Keeping school leaders involved in energy management is crucial to long-term results. Since the cost avoidance portfolio of a district waxes with age, maintaining systems and leveraging available resources, including the Energy Specialist, will go a long way in ensuring the renewal of contracts and continued use of energy conservation services.