Sustainability Hacks: Never Skip These 3 Things in a School Facilities Audit


By Jack Bullock  
Chief Engineer, PE, CEM, BESA

 

 

Conducting a school facility audit can be a costly process. As explained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a comprehensive and accurate audit, while it is not cheap, is essential to the effective and efficient management for school facilities. Also, a school facilities audit helps the district understand more about asset condition and how building use behaviors affect energy costs. In a sense, a school facilities audit is one of the top sustainability hacks at your disposal, but it is imperative you do not overlook a few things.

Why a School Facilities Audit Is Crucial to Achieving Sustainability

A school facilities audit is a comprehensive, granular-based review and analysis of all facility assets and building conditions. It will include a review of past and expected maintenance on equipment, time since last repairs, the average cost of repairs, energy use per asset and much more. Conducting an audit using advanced data tools, including machine learning, results in insights into expected energy use and thereby, the performance of assets in both the short-term and long-term outlooks.

Three Focal Points of a School Facilities Audit

The school facilities audit should focus on three key areas, says the NCES, including:

  • Analyze Historical Utility Use. Understanding the past utility use for the building and its assets will empower the district by creating a record for comparison purposes, as well as identifying factors contributing to higher or lower energy expenses.

  • Building Characteristics. Building conditions also affect energy use. For instance, asset age and condition may result in underventilation or improper conditioning of spaces, resulting in excess energy use. The physical characteristics of the building and its assets must be included in your facility audit.

  • Use Behaviors. The final piece of the puzzle is analyzing use behaviors. Dr. Randy Hoff, Vice Chairman of Cenergistic noted this in saying, "buildings don't use energy; people do." His words echo the need to understand how occupant behaviors affect assets and energy use.

Best Practices in Conducting an Audit.

It's also beneficial to follow a few best practices for conducting a school energy audit, including:

  1. Determine who will perform the audit. This may include internal and external staff and personnel, such as the Cenergistic Energy Specialist.

  2. Recognize the type of data to collect. The type of data collected should revolve around the three focal points of a successful audit.

  3. Inspect the inside and outside. It’s easy to overlook grounds and the building exterior, but they will affect energy and resource use, such as water-conserving landscaping versus keeping grass green in West Texas.

  4. Estimate the remaining useful life for assets. The audit should reveal the remaining life expectancy for assets, helping refine budgeting.

  5. Identify the expected costs of repairs or upgrades, if applicable. If repairs are necessary, notate the costs and impacts to building occupants in the audit.

  6. Collect initial and ongoing data. Collecting initial data during the audit is only part of the equation. The remainder is continuing data collection.

  7. Leverage big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to understand data. Using advanced resources helps to create accurate forecasts for energy use and savings’ potential.

  8. Apply data through recommissioning of facilities. Recommissioning of facilities ensures visibility into all assets by aggregating and understanding them.

  9. Use the audit to build the business case for your energy management program. Facilities without an energy management program can use the audit as a jumping-off point for investing in an energy management program.

Let Cenergistic Help Conduct Your Comprehensive, Data-Driven and Insightful Audit

An energy management audit is an extremely complex and time-consuming task, but its value is critical to maximizing the return of energy management programs. Learn more about what you may have missed in past years’ audits by contacting Cenergistic at 1-855-798-7779 or completing the online contact form today.

Jack Bullock

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