What's Your School Energy Policy?

How can you save energy if your staff doesn't know what's expected?

Even the simplest program designed to save energy can be effective and often it's only a matter of getting people to change wasteful habits. Getting your school district to start saving energy and money may be as simple as putting in writing a few logical energy guidelines.

Ten Key Elements to a Successful Energy Program

  1. Organize energy data and conduct an energy audit.
  2. Build school board and top level administrative support.
  3. Develop a policy for long term energy management.
  4. Appoint an energy manager.
  5. Cultivate support from maintenance and operations staff.
  6. Motivate participants with incentives and recognition.
  7. Integrate energy education with energy management.
  8. Track individual school energy use and provide monthly reports.
  9. Support the committed and innovative individuals at all levels.
  10. Set yearly program goals and energy saving objectives.
    Source: California Energy Commission, Bright Ideas, 1992

The School District of Philadelphia started their Save Energy Campaign in 1983 and their policy goal was to save scarce resources without infringement upon the educational mission of the School district. All operations of the School District facilities are governed by these specifics.

A. Lighting

  1. All lights will be turned off in any area which will be unoccupied for a period in excess of fifteen (15) minutes except for corridors, stairwells, and at exits as required by code.
  2. The following standard lighting levels shall be maintained:
    A. Classrooms and offices 50 footcandles
    Corridors 20 footcandles
    C. Storage 10 footcandles
  3. Under no circumstances will decorative lighting be permitted.

B. Temperature Control

  1. Heating season temperatures of 68 degrees will be maintained in all classrooms and offices.
    Cooling season temperatures will be 80 degrees.
    Special consideration will be given to certain preschool and special education classrooms where possible.
    Warehouse and garage temperatures will be maintained at 55 degrees during the heating season.
  2. Personnel will not obstruct ventilation ducts or return air grills with books, charts, furniture or plants.
  3. All windows and doors must be kept closed during the heating season or when air-conditioning units (refrigerated) are in operation.
  4. Entrances and exits to all buildings shall be limited where possible in their use to minimize heat loss.
  5. Broken windows, doors, etc. shall be reported to the building engineer in a timely manner.
  6. Unauthorized personnel or students found tampering with temperature regulating devices such as thermostats or valves will be subject to disciplinary action.
  7. Portable space heaters of any kind are banned from use within School District facilities as a matter of safety except where provided by Maintenance and Operation.
  8. Employees and students are encouraged to wear sweaters, sweatshirts or similar clothing when it is apparent that the heating plant is not uniformly maintaining the desired temperature throughout all sections of a school facility.

C. Scheduling

  1. Small group activities will not be scheduled in large areas such as auditoriums and gymnasiums. Use of such areas will be coordinated with the custodial staff to enable reduced lighting, heating or cooling during periods of non-use.
  2. At the end of the school or office day, all windows shall be closed, the blinds or shades will be drawn to approximately 3/4 the distance from the top of the window to the window sill and the lights turned off. Cleaning staff will turn lights on only for the period when a specific area is being cleaned.

D. Other

Portable Classrooms: Possibly the most energy intensive square footage on campus.

Hot water for washing and showers will be maintained at 105 degrees (F). Food services operations requiring higher temperature levels by code shall us a booster.

Refrigerators and/or similar appliances shall be limited in their use to certain designated areas as determined by the principal or similar facility authority.

Reprinted with permission from Energy Ideas, Vol. 4, No.3

Summer Energy Tip

Unplug all vending machines and remove any food which will spoil. Unplug any refrigerators which won't be in use. Turn off all pilot lights for the heating system and the hot water heaters if not needed.