School Business Affairs September 2015 - page 24

Big Data for Energy Efficiency
With the right energy-efficiency measures, districts can reduce energy
use and costs, and shrink buildings’ environmental footprint.
By Terry Bickham, CEM, LEED AP, CSDP
school buildings and reducing total operating costs.
That’s possible through the know-how of experienced
energy engineers and innovative energy advisory services
driven by the readily available building performance
data that can be converted into actionable information.
Districts can realize substantial energy-saving and cost-
saving improvements with little or no impact on scarce
capital or operating budgets.
Districts can realize substantial energy-
saving and cost-saving improvements
with little or no impact on scarce capital
or operating budgets.
There is plenty of room for improvement in schools’
energy performance. According to the Department of
Energy, K–12 schools spend more than $8 billion on
energy annually, making energy schools’ second-highest
operating expenditure after personnel costs. A typical
public school district spends more on energy than it does
on computers and books combined. Energy Star (www. estimates that 20%–30% of that energy
is wasted because of inefficient buildings and ineffective
energy management strategies.
Implementing the right portfolio of proven energy-
efficiency measures can help schools reduce energy use
per pupil or square foot, trim waste, improve building
system reliability, and shrink the building’s environmen-
tal footprint. Energy and operating cost savings can be
applied to other district priorities, such as hiring teach-
ers, purchasing new equipment, or improving the physi-
cal structure.
The challenge comes in identifying, selecting, and
prioritizing energy-efficiency measures that will have the
greatest impact on energy consumption and the organi-
zation’s budget.
Visualize the Invisible
Conducting a comprehensive energy audit at the out-
set of any energy-efficiency initiative is beneficial. Few
school districts have the in-house resources, time, or
oing more with less has become business as
usual for school administrators and business
leaders. They are constantly on the lookout
for ways to reduce overhead costs while still
creating the best possible educational experience for
students, faculty, and staff. That endeavor includes pro-
viding the right physical environment for learning—an
environment that is safe, secure, healthy, comfortable,
and productive—without breaking the bank.
School district leaders can address all those factors
at one time by improving the energy efficiency of their
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