energy programs: saving begets more savings - Building Operator ...

theboc.info

energy programs: saving begets more savings - Building Operator ...

energy prograMS: SaVingbegetS More SaVingSChristine DoonanBarbara Ossowski and Kevin Knowles have helped improveenergy efficiency at Lake Stevens SD. Photo: Hayley YoungPhotographyLake Stevens School District comprises 11 schools and three supportbuildings for more than a million square feet of facility space.Ever tighter school budgets have forced cost-cutting in variousdepartments. Facilities management is no exception. Considering therising cost of energy, it is a logical place to spearhead action. And gointo action is what the school district did.Efficiency efforts have progressed to the point that the district wasone of only four in Washington to earn the ENERGY STAR 20%Leader Award for reducing its energy consumption by more than 20%in 2011. Ongoing efforts will likely make them eligible for the 30%Leader Award this year, and then put them on target for TopPerformer.The push for energy efficiency began in earnest in 2005, when localutility Snohomish County PUD was promoting its conservationrebate program for energy-saving measures. The program was set upto provide up to 70% for the costs of energy-efficiency projects,depending on the level of savings.The district’s Supervisor of Grounds and Maintenance,Kevin Knowles, says the incentives made it much easier to getprojects off the ground, since paybacks would be relativelyquick and costs (with incentives) comparatively minimal.“We started with lighting retrofits, which is a natural sinceit’s the low-hanging fruit of energy conservation,” saysKnowles. All interior lighting in the district’s buildings hasbeen retrofitted.Other improvements include HVAC control softwareupgrades and the installation of programmable thermostatsand occupancy sensors. These projects also enjoyed significantrebates. Knowles says the projects produced excellent savingsand generally qualified for the 70% maximum eligible rebate.“Another big advantage to the rebates, besides the energysavings that resulted, was that the rebate money could then beapplied to more energy-saving projects, so the level of efficiencyis almost self-perpetuating,” he explains.In 2007, the utility expanded its rebate program to includeconstruction projects. Three of the district’s older elementaryschools – Hillcrest, Mt. Pilchuck, and Sunnycrest – were inneed of modernization and were given a ground-up treatmentwith specific care in the design phase taken to maximize efficiencyto standards well above energy code standards and thusgenerated maximum rebate amounts.The PUD estimates that, as a result of improvementsthroughout the school district buildings since 2005, electricityconsumption has decreased enough to yield an average of$50,000 in annual savings per building.While great progress was made from efforts begun in 2005,in 2010 the district applied for and received a grant of$560,000 from the Office of the Superintendent of PublicInstruction (OSPI), which covered almost 40% of implementationcosts for projects ranging from updating BAS controlsto new boilers, to a heat recovery system, to pump upgrades. InMarch of that year, the district entered into collaboration withEnergy Education, Inc. (EEI), a nationwide company based inDallas, Texas, that specializes in helping educational facilitiesoperate more efficiently, especially with no- or low-cost solutionssuch as behavioral changes within the community.WAMOA Journal • Facilities Maintenance & custodial solutions • spring 201217


Lake Stevens SD installed a photovoltaic solar energy unit atop one of its schools.Also at that time, Barbara Ossowski, ahigh school science teacher, learned of thenew position of Energy EducationSpecialist. A passionate advocate for energyefficiency, she believed it would be agood fit for her. Working with EEI todevelop strategies for community educationand outreach on energy issues, sheroutinely performs building audits or“walk-throughs” to determine where energyis being used inefficiently. She alsoworks with Kevin Knowles and the facilitiesdepartment to implement changes.“I’m a building guy and focus on howmy building operates most efficiently,” saysKnowles. “Barb as an occupancy personcares about the balance of comfort andefficiency. It’s a good balance.”He says Ossowski’s enthusiasm forEEI’s behavioral modification was a toughsell for her at the beginning, with schoolusers resistant to her practical “turn it off ”suggestions.Working with EEI, Ossowski persistedin getting across the message of personalresponsibility in energy savings by publishingcost-reduction numbers, rewardinggood efficiency behavior, and generallypromoting efficiency gains. “Without ourpartnership with EEI, we wouldn’t bewhere we are in terms of conservation andcommunity responsibility,” she states.Also in 2010, Knowles completed theBuilding Operator Certification (BOC)program, training that dovetailed nicelywith the no-cost/low-cost approach championedby EEI. Although a 25-year veteranof facilities management, he says that“BOC Level 1 opened my eyes and was agreat refresher course to get me back ontrack with overall building operationsimprovements.”He especially enjoyed the opportunityto meet and exchange ideas with otherbuilding professionals. He plans on completingsecond-level certification in thenear future.Many diverse projects have been undertaken.One was a pool cover for the highschool’s facility. The result? A simple poolcover used properly that saves $56 a day,or over $20,000 a year. In the same area,they also installed a desert-air dehumidifierto replace an air handler installed in1978.Another project, for which Ossowskiwrote the grant, was the installation of aphotovoltaic solar array for Lake StevensHigh School, a 4.4-megawatt structurethat was fully funded by grants from theBonneville Environmental Foundation andSnohomish County PUD’s Planet Powerprogram. She explains that, “While theelectricity it produces is small, it does contributeto the energy needs of the highschool and demonstrates the district’scommitment to improving the environment.”Energy efficiency isn’t static, and atLake Stevens School District, this is agiven. The common-sense approach of nocost/low-cost,combined with efforts tokeep capital project costs to a minimumand find energy savings, utility rebates andgrant money is a winning strategy onwhich the school district continues toexpand.18 WAMOA Journal • Facilities Maintenance & custodial solutions • spring 2012

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines