Grow Education Budgets and Improve Learning Outcomes Through Energy Efficiency
By PECO Smart Ideas
Schools and universities that upgrade to energy-saving equipment are lowering costs while improving school operations.
Energy often represents the second largest operating expense among educational facilities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By reducing energy costs, school districts, charter schools, universities and other private institutions across Greater Philadelphia are finding a sustainable path to keep spending down and budgets stable.
Energy efficiency improvements are becoming increasingly more manageable and affordable.
Schools with effective energy conservation programs, incorporating incentive programs, free benchmarking tools and low-cost financing, have reported energy cost reductions of up to 25 percent, reports the Alliance to Save Energy.
For school officials across Greater Philadelphia, PECO offers incentives to retrofit their facilities. Upgrading to energy-saving lighting is now more cost effective than ever before. Even greater savings are achievable by installing advanced equipment and control strategies for high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, refrigeration and food service equipment.
Saving Energy Can Improve Learning Outcomes
The benefits of energy efficiency go beyond reducing operating costs. Improvements to facility environments may also improve student learning outcomes and keep attendance high.
Studies have indicated positive effects from improved lighting conditions on behavior such as working speed, productivity and accuracy. A 2016 study demonstrated that switching from fluorescent to LED lighting can even improve reading and math test results.
Investing in high-efficiency HVAC systems may also result in more productive learning environments. Advanced HVAC equipment may improve student comfort, minimize distracting noises and reduce the likelihood of classroom disruption caused by equipment failure.
Tracking Energy Performance Maximizes Savings
School districts that undertake a complete energy management program begin by determining the energy-saving potential of all school properties through a baseline inventory and facilities audit. Taking these steps is easier thanks to new government- and utility-sponsored tools.
The free, online ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool simplifies tracking energy performance metrics over a given period of time for a single building or across multiple buildings. In Pennsylvania, more than 1,500 K–12 schools benchmark their energy performance.
Energy benchmarking may yield surprising results, with similar-sized buildings potentially producing remarkably different scores. Understanding which buildings within a school district or college campus have the most striking performance issues helps focus investment dollars to wherever the biggest gains can be achieved.
To facilitate the benchmarking process, PECO offers automated systems to transfer utility data into the Portfolio Manager tool.
Creative Financing Is Available for Schools and Universities
In addition to traditional financing options, schools investing in energy efficiency are eligible for third-party, performance contracting.
Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) partner with schools to deliver design-build services as well as operations and maintenance support. Rather than taking funds from operating or capital budgets, school officials receive a guarantee that the ESCO will deliver energy savings. Debt payments are often tied to the guaranteed cost savings.
ESCOs can deliver a wide range of facility improvements or technology upgrades designed to reduce energy, water or other resource consumption or operating costs.
Contact PECO to Learn More
PECO is looking for education officials who wish to improve the energy efficiency of their facility portfolio. Incentives are available to lower the cost of equipment upgrades, and technical experts can help education leaders to improve their bottom line for the long term.
In addition to financial incentives for LED lighting and high-efficiency HVAC systems, PECO offers rebates for:
- Building-wide energy management systems;
- Retro-commissioning cooling systems;
- Beverage- and snack-machine controls;
- Refrigeration and kitchen equipment;
- Demand-controlled ventilation;
- Data center power management systems;
- Removal of unnecessary lighting; and
- Much more!
Schools and universities interested in maximizing the energy efficiency potential of their facilities should contact PECO at 1-844-4BIZ-SAVE (1-844-424-9728) or visit peco.com/biz.
Read more from the September 2017 newsletter