Last month, The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) expanded its Better Buildings program to encompass schools with the Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. That makes sense, since schools clearly present great opportunities to reduce energy consumption.
The press release says that the inaugural class of schools in the program are working collaboratively with national organizations and two states to develop zero energy designs. The initial participants are Hermosa Beach City School District (CA); the Los Angeles Unified School District; Arlington School District (VA); Boulder Valley School District (CO); Adams 12 – Five Star Schools (Thornton, CO); Douglas County School District (CO); Minnesota schools and California schools.
The release said that programs such as the Zero Energy Schools Acclerator can reduce consumption by 65 percent to 80 percent. The saved money can redirected to teacher salaries and other useful purposes.
The Daily Camera focused on Colorado’s participation. Though only Boulder Valley is mentioned in the DoE press release, the story says that the Adams 12 and Douglas county school systems also are participating. Energy Manager Today took a look at what is going on in Boulder. It’s a good deal. Last month, Energy Manager Today spoke to Jeff Medwetz, the Project Manager of Energy Systems:
The results of the fix six projects from the first wave have been to improve energy efficiency in the school district by 52 percent. Energy use intensity (EUI) – which is defined as thousands of British thermal units (BTUs) used per square foot per year – will drop on average from 80.4 to 37.8. The efforts will begin to pay off almost immediately: Utility savings will exceed $170,000 annually. Rebates from Xcel, the utility that serves the district, will be more than $300,000.l:
Discovery Elementary in Arlington, VA, is featured in the DoE press release. The site Technical.ly provides background on the school, which the story says is one of 40 net-zero energy (NZE) schools in the country. The piece says that the school opened in 2015 and features rooftop solar panels, geothermal heating and other energy efficient elements. It is expected to save $75,000 during what the story says is its first year.
The DoE has posted video on the school at YouTube. In addition to saving money, NZE buildings generally offer better environments for students and opportunities to teach them about energy efficiency and renewables.