Straight A’s are the goal; but what energy grade would your schools get?

How would your school district’s buildings score on an energy efficiency test?

As architects and engineers, it’s a question we should always be helping you answer with precision and confidence.

CPL is experienced in helping districts reach maximum building performance by identifying solutions that ensure all system improvements are in sync and client-centric. This is often done by leveraging Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) as a vehicle to recommend strategic energy conservation measures that help schools modernize their buildings AND reduce energy costs.

But what exactly can EPCs do for your district?

For starters, EPCs can help reduce overall building energy consumption by using utility and operations savings to pay for substantial energy efficiency improvements. This greatly benefits school districts and their communities because when school facilities are operating at their peak efficiency, taxpayers reap the rewards and get to save valuable, hard-earned dollars.

Additionally, by reducing operating expenses, EPCs can provide schools with alternative funding sources, outside of Bond and Capital Projects. This puts districts in the driver’s seat to unlock capital that can be used to renew and modernize aging buildings—a strategic action that can demonstrate a high level of fiscal responsibility to the community at large.

Determining whether an EPC is the best project approach can certainly be cumbersome. As a best practice, it is important to know and remember the following:

1) All EPCs are NOT created equally.
Each building has its own unique operating characteristics, including energy usage, energy sources, and energy rates. Buyer beware of EPCs that appear to be “cookie cutter” and do not effectively address your long-term facility needs.

2) Your school buildings have multiple systems that need to “speak” to each other.
It is imperative that your EPC accounts for the critical communication links provided through your building controls to optimize all systems and equipment operations. Often, EPCs become too focused on short-term payback and end up reducing the functionality of your systems.

3) The quality of your equipment is paramount.
Cheap equipment might provide a “quicker” payback, but it will almost certainly break down and require more money to repair much sooner than desired.

4) Correlation does not equal causation when it comes to EPCs and indoor air quality.
EPCs do not directly improve indoor air quality. In fact, they can actually reduce ventilation to generate energy savings. An engineered system approach is required to improve your building’s indoor air quality, while still limiting the energy impact.



Dave is a Vice President, accomplished mechanical engineer, and the Lead M/E/P Engineer here at CPL. He supports and directs the work of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering staff, while continually "raising the bar" when it comes to the implementation of new technologies advancing the design process.

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