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Saving Energy Means More Money for the Classroom

By Green Coast on 8 Nov 2013

A 2009 study commissioned by the US Department of Energy found that our school operators were spending $1-2 million annually more than necessary on utility costs because of an inefficient use of the facility and its energy resources. Green Coast Enterprises Senior Building Engineer, Joe Ryan, was one of the lead authors of this study and this summer we launched a new focus area supporting New Orleans area schools reduce utility bills so more resources can be put where they are most needed, on the teaching and learning that happens in the classroom.

One of the great successes of the post-Katrina rebuilding efforts is the fleet of brand new LEED certified schools coming online, giving the school children of New Orleans facilities for the 21st century. Modern school facilities, though, have specific operational challenges as high tech systems replace older inefficient equipment. With a number of large spaces (think cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums) that are occupied intermittently throughout the day and unique fluctuations in occupation levels on hourly timescales, facilities staff need to know how to set and operate schedules that respond to the needs of the occupants. Hundreds of students occupy the full building during school hours, but administrative staff and teachers use a percentage of the building at other times. In addition, school facilities often become community facilities in the evening hours. The new technology gives us the power to specify when, where, and how the building is conditioned, but operating these systems is much more complicated than just switching them on and off.

Green Coast is excited to be working with the Recovery School District and several charter operators to reduce energy costs and improve comfort in school facilities. We are lucky to be working with so many excellent facilities that have been constructed or rebuilt in the city. Our goal is to prevent them from needlessly wasting money on their utility bills so that they are able to spend it where it counts: on giving their students the best possible education.

Categories: Building Green

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