What Are the Challenges Facing Schools and the Benefits of Energy Efficiency?
Across the nation, schools face a budgeting crisis. K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning spend a combined $14 billion annually on utility costs. This spending often creates a budget deficit according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiatives. Education Facilities Managers need to know the challenges they face, and how the benefits of energy efficiency can help meet these challenges.
Challenges in Implementing Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Schools
The challenges of today's schools are extensive. Facilities Managers have smaller budgets. Utility costs are increasing, including the introduction of demand-based rates. Deferred maintenance issues' costs can multiply exponentially. Problems with workforce retention and pension contributions further restrict the ability of Facilities Managers to maintain a learning-conducive and comfortable atmosphere. Even implementing energy efficiency upgrades comes with challenges. Depending on the upgrade, upfront investment costs can be steep, and gaining school board support for upgrades is a challenge.
Know How Energy Efficiency Upgrades Pay for Themselves
The primary benefits of energy efficiency boil down to two factors, impact on guests and occupants and impact on the budget. Energy efficiency upgrades have an advantage in education when compared to commercial upgrades, only if a school can justify upgrades. While commercial facilities follow a three-year standard to recoup investment costs, schools have a much longer term, up to 20 years to recoup costs. For example, a school may be able to recoup its costs over a 10-year or 20-year time-frame due to its permanent nature.
Obviously, schools with severe maintenance problems that could severely affect the students’ health and ability to learn may warrant a rebuild. This is why it's important to recognize the difference between schools that merely need upgrades and those that will require complete rebuilds. Failure to recognize this difference could undermine energy-efficiency savings.
Additional Benefits of Energy Efficiency Upgrades.
The benefits of energy efficiency upgrades in K-12 schools are limited only by the imagination. Facilities Managers can automate lighting systems, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, provide the proper conditions to encourage productivity among students, reduce the stress for teachers and achieve significant cost savings. Instead of focusing on all of the benefits, Facilities Managers and educational institutions should focus on several key groups. These may include:
- Increased comfort for building occupants, including students.
- Cost savings and utility bills and reduced demand-rate usage.
- Setting a positive example for students.
- Better health for students, teachers, administrators, and all other building occupants.
- Tapping into government-sponsored funding for energy efficiency upgrades, reducing budget deficits.
- More capital for use in hiring teachers and purchasing supplies or equipment.
- Reduced risk of human errors that may lead to greater costs, i.e., automated system controls.
- Better reporting capabilities.
- Improved asset longevity and reduced maintenance costs.
Know Where You Stand With Energy Efficiency in Your Buildings Today.
Real challenges exist in making energy efficiency upgrades to K-12 schools, and funding is at an all-time low. Instead of worrying about creating a budget deficit through upgrades, Facilities Managers that focus on the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades can build the best business case possible and realize the true savings potential of such upgrades. Cenergistic can help your school identify and overcome the challenges of implementing energy-efficient systems and processes. Learn what to do next to reap the benefits of energy efficiency by contacting Cenergistic at 1-855-798-7779 or visiting us online.