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Schools Roundup: North Carolina, California, Wisconsin, Florida

Paul Nastu

School energy usagePowerSecure International has designed and installed solar and distributed generation systems for Sandy Grove Middle School in Lumber Bridge, NC, which opened for the 2013-2014 school year as one of the nation’s first net positive energy schools. The LEED platinum certified school will utilize a 589 kW DC solar photovoltaic system and a 600 kW generator from PowerSecure. The system includes PowerSecure’s custom controls and distributed generation solution, which will enable demand response when the local utility begins its anticipated demand response program in 2014.  The school is expected to serve as a model for new school design and is anticipated to save nearly $16 million in energy cost alone over the next 40 years. Combined with other operations and maintenance efficiencies, it will save Hoke County, NC more than $35 million during that same period.

Green school design expert LPA is helping a San Diego middle school gain the status of being the first LEED for Schools Platinum public school building in the state of California.  Montgomery Middle School, in the Otay Mesa campus close to the Mexico border in San Diego, has 900 students. The Sweetwater Union High School District wanted each classroom to have its own individual packaged unit for heating and cooling – combined with the need to fully dedicate the rooftop for a large 217-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system. LPA came up with a two-story mechanical distribution hub at the center of each educational wing to house the high-efficiency HVAC units. With variable speed compressors and fans working in tandem with integrated air-side economizers, the system is tied into a campus-wide energy management system which controls the temperature and optimizes operation. After the rooftop PV system is installed later this year, LPA anticipates the project will be at or near net-zero energy.

The Green Bay School District in Wisconsin is looking for $5 million in funding for energy projects and improvements. The school district says it can access the money without additional costs to taxpayers and therefore will not need to do a referendum to get voter approval. Approval is required for amounts exceeding $1 million but there are exceptions, and energy efficiency funding is one of them. The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that previous energy efficiency projects have saved the district $10 million in the last 10 years, by switching to efficient light bulbs, turning off lights when not needed and reducing usage during peak hours.

Cenergistic has helped a St. Augustine, Fla., school district reduce energy usage and see cost savings of 45 percent at $22 million over the last 5 years. Its system helps the St. Johns County Schools optimize infrastructure, improve processes and change behavior by leveraging accounting software to track energy and resource usage. Chief among the changes include raising classroom temperatures from 69 degrees to 73 degrees; cutting off heat or cooling in large areas like gyms and cafeteria; turning up or down the thermostat on weekends when students leave; turning off all office equipment when staff leave for the day and reducing usage during peak hours, reports the St. Augustine Record.



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