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.
Read Part 2 of this Post