The Benefits of Online Energy Monitoring in Educational Buildings

Hill York Monitoring Systems for NSU

Real-time Web-based Monitoring of Air Conditioning in Schools.  –

Energy costs are the second highest expense our nation’s budget crunched schools have to face. And nowhere is the old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” more applicable than in air conditioning operations. Real-time web-based monitoring of air conditioning in schools can help the environment and deliver great savings, making limited school funds available for other uses.

Unlike schools in other regions, many Florida schools run their air conditioning system year-round to maintain low humidity levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $2 million could be saved by improving energy efficiency in schools. Many school districts are already taking positive steps in the right direction.

K-12 schools, colleges and universities can save energy through a new, energy efficient approach to air conditioning on campus. By installing web-based, real-time, online energy monitoring technology, schools can accurately monitor and track energy levels 24/7.

Some schools, such as Nova Southeastern University (NSU), have taken the technology one step further by installing chiller plant optimization. This is the marriage of sophisticated energy measurement and verification (M&V) technology with expert engineering analysis to operate the air conditioning system in a highly efficient manner. In NSU’s case, the school designed and built a new central energy plant incorporating advanced chillers and an ice-based thermal energy storage system. This approach to air conditioning allows the school to reduce energy costs by shifting chiller operation from peak to off-peak electric rates. A web-based online energy monitoring system allows school administrators to stay abreast of energy levels and comfort conditions for its 300-acre campus.

Green Air Conditioning Systems

In addition to saving money, sustainable or green air conditioning systems facilitate carbon footprint reduction. Schools that implement a green air conditioning system will experience reduced energy expenses and encourage better student performance. While universities face the challenge of identifying green air conditioning systems to handle a vast campus, many smaller schools have started using energy efficient alternatives to conventional systems.

Here’s how both K-12 schools and higher education facilities can benefit from implementing a green air conditioning system:

•Lower energy costs-Schools spend $75 per student on gas bills and $130 per student on electricity each year. In fact space cooling and ventilation consumes up to 8% of a school’s total energy costs. According to the EPA, schools can save up to 30% in energy costs by taking steps such as installing or retrofitting a green air conditioning system and implementing ENERGY STAR electrical appliances.
•Reduce greenhouse gas emissions-Decreasing fossil fuel consumption can help schools reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuel generated from electricity contributes to 40% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, along with an increase in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide—contributing factors to climate change and the generation of smog and acid rain.
•Contribute to economic revival-The EPA estimates that 8 million jobs in the energy efficiency market have been created since 2008.
•Enhanced indoor air quality-Energy recovery ventilation equipment significantly reduces heating, cooling and ventilation loads by nearly 40%. For example, a school district in Colorado implemented and integrated an indoor energy efficiency and indoor air quality management program that generated $900,000 in savings, while at the same time improving the quality of air ventilation.
•Reduce absenteeism-Improved air quality through the use of green air conditioning systems means healthier students and staff.
Choosing a Tampa LEED Certified Contractor

Whether you are starting with new construction or retrofitting your outdated system to accommodate a green air conditioning system, consulting a green Tampa contractor should be your first step.

Any green initiative should be analyzed for the potential to help obtain LEED certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification supports and encourages green building development practices, contributing towards increased environmental and health sustainability.

Look for a LEED certified Tampa company that has LEED APs (Accredited Professionals) on staff, including a LEED Charrette Facilitator. Ask the HVAC consultant about partnerships with other green contractors and consultants that ultimately deliver an efficient and thorough job.