A school, whether its grade school or a college campus, can use up a lot of energy during the day. From heating the building to inefficient lighting fixtures in the building; a school that is running 8-10 hours a day can prove to be a huge consumer of energy and thus; a high utility overhead to maintain.
This post is specifically for those whom work for a school or college campus that can either make the decisions, or can recommend new ideas to those who do make these types of decisions. The overall goal of this post is to bring the most actionable energy saving ideas for schools so that you can start looking into them immediately.
We are going to be covering 15 practical tips and ways that you can start saving energy in schools and become a greener, environment friendly, and more sustainable facility overall. Here they are.
1. Replace inefficient lighting fixtures
In school facilities we most commonly find tube lighting being used in the hallways, classrooms, and really anywhere with lower ceilings that are flat.
This technology is, more often than not, fluorescent. Believe it or not, this actually isn’t the most energy efficient lighting technology out there. So what is you ask?
Well, LED technology is by far the most efficient luminaire on the market today. By switching from fluorescent to LED, you will be able to realize a 30% reduction in electric energy consumption associated with your tube lights.
As for you parking lot , exterior walls of your school and sports fields, you can make the switch away from technologies like metal halide or HPS over to LED and realize every greater energy savings by up to 75%! Talk about a lot of energy being reduced.
2. Install occupancy sensors
Some areas of your building may not be in use at all times where the lights would be on otherwise (such as hallways). By installing occupancy sensors which turn on when there is movement, you will be able to have lights be on only when the area is needed. No more needing to illuminate that back hallway that is only used a few times a day all of the time!
3. Make sure everyone is conscious of turning off lights
You can have all of the technology in the world, but if someone doesn’t turn off lights that need to be turned off manually (such as a switch inside a classroom), you will be realizing a great waste of energy in your building that can’t really be fixed otherwise.
To solve this, make sure an email goes out to every staff member (and maybe even the students) stating there is a new initiative in energy reduction on campus. Believe it or not a lot of people will listen and be more aware of it next time they leave a room.
4. Invest in energy management systems
By installing an energy management system, such as a thermostat control and timer, you will be able to more effectively control the heat or cooling your building outputs through the day, week, month, and year (accounting for weekends and holidays).
Otherwise, when you leave it to be done manually, you won’t be as accurate with timing and thus; excess waste of energy going to heating and cooling unoccupied buildings or rooms. By setting timers you can easily tell the system when to go and off, depending on the time and even the day.
5. Clean furnace filters regularly
Having a dirty filter on anything, as we all know, reduces its efficiency. By having dirty filters on your furnace, you will be running at less-than-optimal levels, and an easy fix is to simply let the maintenance team know they need to be maintaining clean filters regularly. Might as well send them an email too while you are at it!
6. Have dorms? Don’t forget about the dorms
If you are a college and have dorms, please don’t forget about them! As you might know, college kids might not be aware about saving energy and the benefits. Luckily, they don’t need to. It’s up to you to ensure you put things into place to make it easier for them to take part in energy saving.
This can be done through occupancy sensors like we talked about, emailing kids reminding them about your new initiatives, installing water saving sink and toilets, and so on. Making the students a part of it will take you much farther than trying to tackle the issue on your own.
This even goes for grade schools; make the kids involved. You never know, you might inspire some kid to come up with some brand new and exceptional idea that is revolutionary!
7. Lots of computers = lots of energy
And no, screen savers don’t conserve energy. But, what does save energy more-so than a screen saver is the “sleep” function that every computer has. On top of that, next time you plan on upgrading your computers, make sure you buy Energy Star qualified ones. This means they’ve passed some energy efficiency tests and are much more energy efficient than non-qualified computers are (same with your lighting system, make sure it is Energy Star or DLC qualified too).
8. Hall monitor? No! Energy Monitor
Assigning kids to help out with conservation efforts can prove to be a hugely effective way to creating school sustainability. Although it’s not the only thing you need to do to reduce energy and resource usage, by having students on board they can advocate to others on a level your email’s simply can’t.
Get aboard a few people from each grade or level and see what they think could be done. Alternatively you could even get classes to create energy conservation projects for school students, which will do nothing but help.
9. Better insulation in your buildings
A lot of heat in your building can be lost through poorly insulated walls and ceilings. By upgrading your insulation you will realize a hefty reduction in energy waste related to heating (or cooling) your building.
Although this can seem like a big investment for a school (just like some of these other things), you need to look at the long term savings that it will bring your facility. More likely than not, it will almost always produce a positive ROI all while promoting school sustainability.
10. Upgrade those bathrooms
There are much better ways to save electricity at school in the bathroom than replacing hand driers with paper towel dispensers. All that does is create another issue, the ongoing cost and waste produced from the paper towels!
Instead, upgrading hand dryers that are energy efficient is a surefire way to reduce energy usage in you schools bathroom. On top of that, installing sinks and toilets that use less hot water (and water in general) can be a great addition while you are at it.
11. Conduct building commissioning
By conducting a throughout and professional building commissioning, you get every single last area of your school inspected to ensure it is running exactly how it was designed to run. A lot of times we overlook things that are unique issues to your school, and no matter how long of a list we read on ways to conserve energy at school; we will never see everything. So our tip for you is to bring in a professional to do a full building commissioning audit, and let them tell you what is up.
12. Promote usage of natural light
Face it, a lot of classes happen during broad daylight and by not using up that free light from outside is a pure waste. By opening blinds to there fullest (when appropriate) you can reduce the amount of lights you need on by nearly half, depending on the day and time of year.
Just make sure to remind everyone to do this otherwise, you’ll never will with this tactic. Remember: you need to get the school on board or else you can only do so much.
Alternatively to just opening the blinds and windows, installing skylights into virtually any area of the building can be an even more effective way of getting the most natural light into your building. This is probably most beneficial for areas that would otherwise have no natural light whatsoever, such as hallways or interior rooms.
13. Heat rooms, not the hallways
We’ve already brought up some points about your heating system, but here is yet another. Think about how often students are in the hallways, not nearly as much as they are in classrooms, right? So, why not make an initiative to heat the classrooms and stop heating those huge hallways that waste tons of heat to the outside from all those doors being opened.
Just make sure that everyone is closing their doors if you do decide to go this route. Likewise, you could install doors that automatically close which will prevent random doors from being forgotten about.
14. Promote recycling throughout the school
Although this won’t directly save your school energy, it sure does help reduce both waste and energy associated with creating new materials. The most simple way to start the promotion of recycling at school is simple; make it readily available. If you aren’t putting recycle bins next to every trash bin, most people won’t go out of there way to recycle so they will just throw it away and let it go to the landfill.
A step further would even to start putting up signs above the cans reminding people to recycle, and even what they can recycle to help people out. Do this one for the earth!
15. Go solar and generate energy
There is only so much you can do when it comes to conserving energy, but you will always be consuming some. By taking these above steps, you will be able to greatly reduce your energy consumption levels so much so that you may even be able to power it all through solar.
The investment in solar technology can be hefty, but rebates and grants are out there to make it a more affordable option that ever. On top of that, you are becoming a role model to the community by showcasing what conserving energy can do when used with solar energy technology. Let solar generate your building a positive ROI all while conversing the planet’s resources.
We think the list could endless of all the possible ways to save energy in school, so we must of forgot some. Be sure to comment down below your energy conservation tips that will help out school facilities become greener!
LED Indoor Fixtures for Schools and Classrooms
LED Outdoor Fixtures for Schools
All of these tips are exactly how energy efficient schools are becoming more sustainable, reducing ongoing costs, and generating a positive atmosphere and educational system for students and generations to come.
Don’t let the upfront costs scare you, instead look at the bigger picture. If you have to invest money now to save 10x later, isn’t it worth it? All of these things will do just that, improve the bottom line. And not only are we doing that, but we help the environment out just a little bit too. Sounds like a win-win to us! Just remember that saving energy at school doesn’t have to be hard, just take it step by step and you will slowly see the results of your efforts build up!
Anyways, to wrap it up we’d like to invite you to share any of your own energy conservation tips for schools that you may have done or even just thought of that may benefit other schools across the globe.