Helping Schools Get Straight-A’s in Energy Efficiency
July 24, 2017
K-12 schools spend $8 billion annually on energy costs — more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined — and Energy Star® estimates about 30 percent of that energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily.
Is your school district getting straight-A’s in energy efficiency? If the answer is no, a building management system (BMS) can help.
School districts often face a long list of challenges, including budget constraints, aging facility needs and pressure to find cost savings. Some schools may also have sustainability goals to lower emissions and reduce energy use.
A BMS helps staff monitor and control the varying spaces in school buildings — from cafeterias to classrooms to offices — for improved efficiency, cost savings and building performance, as well as better control of classroom conditions for improved IAQ, which can help support student learning.
What can a BMS do?
A BMS offers tools and solutions that provide a constant flow of information regarding how a building is running and using energy.
The increasing connectivity of building systems and equipment, and the fact that many of them are cloud-based, means more information is available than ever. Almost as quickly as the information comes in, it can be accessed. The key is using this data to make better decisions about how buildings are operated.
Many school facilities have a building automation system (BAS) that provides information about how equipment and systems are performing. This digitalization of BMS solutions, such as energy analytics and 24/7 building monitoring, delivers a full picture of performance and efficiency — for system optimization in one building or across an entire campus.
How are schools using it?
In one example, a school determined that at any given time during the school day, up to 30 percent of classroom spaces were not being used because students were elsewhere — perhaps in the art room or the gym. In this situation, a BMS can provide centralized control of multiple systems and zones in a building, so unoccupied spaces can be adjusted as needed to save energy.
A BMS can also be used to manage different levels of after-hours use in a school building. An 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day requires certain system setpoints. Then there may be practices or rehearsals in some spaces from 3 to 5 p.m., requiring different settings throughout the building. Then from 5 to 7 p.m., there may be custodial staff working in an otherwise unoccupied building, requiring yet another level of system changes for that window.
The right BMS can help you easily manage these varying needs, for optimized performance and efficient energy use.
While this may seem overwhelming, starting with small projects is one way to make it feel manageable. In many cases, the return on investment will justify the project and make it easier to gain support and buy-in for additional improvements. Support from school leaders and ongoing validation of the results are two keys to success.
There are many options available, so it’s easy to find a solution to best fit your needs and budget. Trane® can be a partner in this process, providing insight and expertise to help you sort through the options, implement solutions and validate results.
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