KPPC to help Kentucky schools reduce energy use
November 3rd, 2008
Kentucky school districts spent $160 million on energy in fiscal year 2006-07, but by doing some simple things, such as changing to energy-efficient light bulbs, they could trim several million off that bill.
The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, located in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville, will work with all of the state’s school districts to help them reduce energy costs through the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS). State law mandates participation by Jan. 1, 2010.
In a two-year pilot, KEEPS helped five school districts and three colleges and universities save more than $1 million in energy costs during fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08. Energy savings approached a 10 percent reduction, said Cam Metcalf, KPPC executive director.
The pilot program’s success made full program roll-out possible this fall rather than next year, Metcalf said. School districts can sign up now rather than waiting until 2009, as originally had been the plan.
Kenton County schools saw the most savings of pilot participants with a combined total of $496,000 for the two years.
“We joined KEEPS … because I thought it would help me to fill in some of the gaps in our energy management program,” said Chris Baker, energy systems coordinator for the Kenton County School District. “KEEPS provides me with technical support from the KPPC to help audit buildings and identify energy efficiency opportunities. They also provide online training that is very useful for our district energy team.
“Probably one of the most useful features of the program is being part of a network of energy professionals in the educational sector,” Baker added. “Being able to share my experiences and learn from other’s experiences is invaluable.”
The process started, Metcalf said, “with making sure that equipment was running efficiently during occupied times, focusing on what was happening when the buildings were unoccupied and making sure that the changes being made to reduce energy use did not negatively affect occupant comfort or safety.”
Low-cost/no-cost energy efficiency measures accounted for much of the initial savings, said Beth Bell, KEEPS coordinator. Besides switching to low-energy light bulbs, such measures include changing heating and air conditioning systems settings, replacing Exit sign bulbs with LEDs, installing occupancy sensors, shutting down electronic equipment during long breaks, putting timers on fans and training faculty, staff, and students to be more thoughtful about turning off lights and dressing more comfortably for changing temperatures.
According to KEEPS guidelines, participants must commit to pro-active implementation of sound energy management practices. The development of an environmental policy is one measure of a participant’s success in the program. It becomes part of a participant’s standard operating procedures, which includes organization management, purchasing standards and day-to-day activities of faculty, staff and students. Commitment from senior administration also is essential to program success.
KEEPS follows the seven-step Energy Star Energy Management Process, Metcalf said.
During the pilot, “we found that the top-down push was necessary to engage all departments that impact energy use in a school facility,” he said. “The Board of Education and superintendent must issue an energy policy, appoint a team and team lead to set the Energy Star Energy Management Process in motion and commit to continual improvement in energy use and conservation.
“The Energy Management Process was proven to be successful because it is a systems approach that keeps the team engaged in setting goals, developing action and implementation plans and evaluating progress continually,” he said. “The systems approach keeps energy ideas and projects from being ‘one and done’ and leads to continual evaluation of energy savings opportunities.”
Saving energy has broad implications.
“Helping school districts reduce energy consumption not only controls rising energy costs, it also reduces each school’s carbon footprint, increases community awareness on energy efficiency and conservation and builds a systems approach to energy management that can easily be transferred to other sustainability issues facing school districts, such as solid waste, transportation and water usage,” Bell said.
In addition to helping schools develop energy policies and procedures, KEEPS also works with the Kentucky Chapter of the National Energy Education Development Project and the Kentucky School Plant Management Association to educate teachers, students, plant managers and maintenance personnel on how their actions affect energy consumption.