Government & Schools
County and local governments and schools share many parallels with their energy usage and performance. Often, even if they are only a few buildings, they are buildings with challenges such as mixed use facilities and a complex history of building renovations and upgrades over multiple decades.
As you search for resources to save energy for your buildings, you are challenged by having limited resources of time, expertise and finances. You may be fortunate enough to have a facilities manager, but their job also consists of plowing the snow in the winter, managing the waste hauling contract, and even the fleet. We have worked with many schools and government entities and have designed this page as both a starting point for those new to energy conservation and efficiency and a resource list for those looking to take the next steps.
Where do I begin? – Measurement! We strongly recommend that you begin with Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager; gather up the last couple of years of energy bills and enter the data into this free, online tool. This allows you to track savings as you implement projects and possibly discover places where your energy consumption has increased unexpectedly – indicating a problem you can hopefully address quickly. . For a view of what your data would look like, see our 2018 Update of Pennsylvania’s Energy Star® Certified Schools .
What about equipment? – No, envelope! Before you consider capital equipment costs, we suggest you next look at your building envelope. Building envelope components are often overlooked yet often have the largest impact on your energy usage. If you have water infiltration, you probably have air infiltration and ruined insulation. Ask staff or students if they “feel a breeze” they might be able to quickly help you identify opportunities to replace or repair windows, or add or re-insulate a space.
Now my HVAC system? – Yes! Once you have a tight building, you can examine your HVAC system – compare your repair bills to the cost of a new system, we’ve seen examples of annual maintenance costs being higher than a new system! With your energy bills reviewed via Energy Star, and a thorough examination of your maintenance bills, you can identify which equipment needs a full tune-up or replacement. Interviews with staff can also help identify failed controls, radiators that are always on or off, fans that never run, and more.
What about low-cost stuff? You may also be able to take advantage of energy conservation through behavioral change of your staff and if you’re a school, your students. Hanging signs, using students to create posters or act as “light police,” and so forth can sometimes make a large difference in consumption if you’re unable to install computerized controls for your equipment. See more information about controls on the “Controls” page.
I hear lights can be a big savings? – Yes! A light meter is a very affordable piece of equipment; examine your light levels and make sure they meet standards. More often than expected, you’ll find spaces over-lit. Most municipalities and schools operate a lot of outdoor security lighting and street and signaled lighting. Check our lighting page for more information.
What about all that other stuff? Not all governments and schools provide food service, operate fleets, or have air compressors (or maybe only one in the garage), but we have information on those pages we hope you find useful. Some governments (and schools) operate their own drinking water and wastewater facilities. Several resources exist specific to those operations, most of which can be found on our fans/pumps/motors page.