Lawmakers in the state of Idaho took advantage of federal funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—more commonly called the 2009 Federal Stimulus—to improve the energy efficiency of the state’s school buildings. Over $17 million was allocated to the 116 school districts in Idaho with the objective of improving energy efficiency in K-12 classroom buildings.
The key challenge was to find and install a consistent, costeffective technology to improve the energy efficiency in nearly 900 distinctly different and widely dispersed school buildings.
The central objective was to achieve a 10-15% improvement in each school building’s energy consumption, following an initial energy audit and HVAC system tune-up.
The ideal candidate would be a well-established Energy Information Management System with a proven track
record of accomplishment. It had to be one that was widely applicable to diverse building structures, as well as building management systems (BMS) of different ages and capabilities.
It had to be easy to install, calibrate, and verify. And it had to provide consistent data across Idaho’s geographically diverse school districts, accessible in real-time by the Idaho Office of Energy Resources.
An additional challenge was to find a system that would offer total transparency, using easy to grasp visual displays of ongoing energy consumption, historical patterns, weather, occupancy, and related factors. Such displays could become learning tools for students and faculty alike, using for example, kiosks in the public spaces that invite conversation and classroom discussion about the role of energy efficiency.
The Idaho school system, in concert with the Idaho office of Energy Resources, chose Energy Worksite, which has been used nationwide for demand side management,
energy conservation, and load profiling, tenant billing, sub-metering and energy modeling across the spectrum of commercial, industrial, and public buildings.
Energy Worksite establishes an accurate energy use baseline through the installation of an Energy Information System (EIS) that captures building energy use data on an hourly basis. Deployed as a software-as-a-service on BuildingIQ’s 5i platform, Energy Worksite monitors energy consumption, quantifies energy savings as measured against the baseline, and assists the schools’ facilities managers with maintaining energy efficiency gains over the long term. Further, the software service enables the state to track results across Idaho’s geographically distributed school districts.
Energy Worksite’s portfolio offers significant analytical capabilities to assist facility managers in daily operations. Among other things, it can automatically detect and identify anomalies that can potentially degrade HVAC performance. Energy Worksite offers the schools’ facilities managers —as well as the teachers and students— an opportunity to see energy efficiency at work. The system conveniently displays each school’s energy profile, provides comparison to historical consumption patterns, and shows the relationship to broader environmental objectives, such as reducing carbon footprint.
During fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the state of Idaho completed HVAC tune-ups in 894 existing Idaho K-12 classroom buildings. Once the wireless monitoring hardware was installed at the electric meter, Energy Worksite began tracking and comparing energy usage patterns. It calculated expected energy use based on schedules, local weather conditions and the buildings’ prior energy use; then compared expected consumption to the actual usage to calculate savings.
Results are displayed and reported in detail. This establishes a critical feedback loop to building operators allowing them to see energy savings in real-time.
The success of the project was immediately apparent after the audit and tune-ups were completed for the initial group of schools. In time, every school where 2009 baseline data was collected reported savings, with many of them showing double-digit reductions in energy use.
According to Sue Seifert, Program Manager in the Idaho Office of Energy Resources, “Energy Worksite provides a clear picture of the impact of our initial energy audits and HVAC and control system tune-ups. We are very encouraged by the savings we are beginning to see around the state. Our current estimate of program savings on the tune-ups is over $3 million.
That’s right on track with our project goals.” Figure 1 shows the savings for the South Middle School in Nampa, Idaho, from February 2010 through January 2011.
The school calculated cumulative energy savings of 214,875 kWh during the first year of operations. This represents a 19% reduction over the 2009 baseline (pre-audit/tune-up).
Figure 2 is a photo of the Energy Kiosk display in the lobby of Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho. It shows current usage in real-time, yesterday’s energy usage, and the energy efficiency improvements in terms of a 14% reduction in the school’s carbon footprint.
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