ERIC Identifier: ED261818
Publication Date: 1984-00-00
Author: Gardener, Clark
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Rural Education and Small Schools Las Cruces NM.
Energy Conservation in Small Schools. Small Schools Digest.
With increasing energy costs, schools are looking for methods to conserve
energy. From 1969 to 1978, energy costs increased 322 percent (Canipe 1979). In
1973, schools used approximately 12.5 percent of their discretionary budgets for
energy. By 1976, they were using approximately 35 percent, and costs were rising
Tenneco, Inc., in their Schoolhouse Energy Efficiency Demonstration (SEED)
project (1979), found that the typical American school could cut the cost of its
energy consumption by one-third by implementing local maintenance and low-cost
modification programs. Many of the schools were designed when energy was
plentiful and inexpensive (Tenneco 1979) so there was little regard for energy
efficiency. Building characteristics coupled with poor maintenance programs have
resulted in facilities that waste as much as 25-50 percent of the energy used
Energy conservation measures are further hampered in small schools by lack of
financial support, technical help, and administrative time devoted to developing
an adequate plan. Isolation and financial factors restrict small school
personnel from attending workshops and meetings on energy conservation measures
(Stephan and others 1979). Because energy conservation plans for small schools
are usually developed locally, information about methods and available materials
that can be used by small schools is needed.
HOW SHOULD ENERGY POLICY BE ESTABLISHED?
The first step in developing an energy conservation policy is to obtain
school board commitment and to establish an energy saving policy. After a policy
is established, an energy coordinator or czar should be appointed to oversee the
conservation program. Finding such a person may be difficult in a small school,
but it is essential.
Having developed a policy and appointed a coordinator, the third step is to
raise public consciousness. The most effective efforts have been those which
involve as many people as possible in the energy conservation program. Teachers,
students, support personnel, and the community should become involved. Also, the
more successful programs have offered an incentive plan whereby the teachers,
students, or the school receive a portion of the savings the school has
HOW CAN AN ENERGY AUDIT BE PERFORMED?
An energy audit, consisting of two major databases, should then be started.
The first database consists of information on the buildings and energy costs for
at least the last 12 months of each utility used. A regular schedule should be
developed to read the utility meters and record the consumption. During this
phase, information about the local climate to determine the degree-days, wind
speed and direction, and cloudless days should be compiled (Woodbury 1980).
The second portion of an energy audit is to walk through and examine the
building to find areas where energy may be escaping or where energy may be
saved. Often the smallest expenditures produce the greatest savings. Changes in
operational procedures can realize a 5-25 percent savings in energy costs. Small
capital improvements can reduce energy costs 25-35 percent (Stephan 1979).
The energy audit should be performed on the human, structural, lighting, and
This area includes such things as making sure that lights are turned off when
a room is not in use, having shades drawn or opened properly to make the best
use of the sun or the shade's insulating capabilities, and consolidating
evenings used for extra-curricular activities. It consists of awareness programs
and procedural changes that can be accomplished with very little cost to the
The structural systems portion of an energy audit examines the construction
of the total building. Blueprints of the school which show any additions to the
original building should be examined. From the audit information, insulation
values, percentage of window areas in walls, and other possible energy leaks may
be found. During the structural systems audit, the energy coordinator should
examine doors, windows, vents and other sources where air may leak into or out
of the building.
Many small and inexpensive changes in the lighting system can save on the
electrical costs. During the audit, check if there are places where bulbs can be
removed or where incandescent bulbs can be replaced by fluorescent, sodium, or
mercury lamps. Also check the lights and light fixtures to see if they are
clean. Dirty lights can reduce their illumination capacity by 50 percent (Canipe
Special systems include school cafeteria areas, classrooms for vocational
education, and transportation of students. It may also include looking at the
area directly surrounding the school plant. Simple remedies as planting trees or
shrubs on the windward or sunny side of the building may reduce energy costs by
10-34 percent (Tenneco 1979).
After performing your energy audit, set goals to achieve. Remember that each
school is unique, and what will work at other schools may not work for you.
WHAT ARE SOME INEXPENSIVE CONSERVATION PRACTICES?
--Lower thermostat settings (68 degrees for winter and 78 degrees for summer)
--Set back thermostats 10 degrees at night
--Remove unnecessary or decorative lights
--Lower hot water heater temperature to between 100 and 110 degrees
--Caulk and align all windows
--Weatherstrip and align doors
--Limit access to school (fewer evening activities)
--Consolidate evening activities to one or two evenings per week
--Clean light fixtures
--Have custodial work done during the day or every other day
--Cut back on outside air intake for ventilation
--Turn off lights in rooms when not in use
--Draw drapes, blinds, or window shades during evening hours, dark days, or
sunny days depending on the time of the year
--Consolidate activities into fewer rooms
--Use natural light when possible
WHAT ARE SOME CONSERVATION METHODS REQUIRING SMALL CAPITAL OUTLAYS?
--Install new windows of smaller size with better insulating capabilities
--Add insulation to the building where necessary
--Hire someone to check the heating/ventilation and air conditioning units
--Add a vestibule or wind break at outside doors
--Replace incandescent lighting with fluorescent, sodium, or mercury lamps
--Install parabolic reflectors or diffusion screens to lights
--Plant trees or shrubs on windward side of building or shade portions of the
--Install better switches for lights; usually lights by windows can be turned
off when there is enough natural light
--Replace worn boiler controls
--Install heat recovery equipment
--Lower height of lighting fixtures
--Use photocell and/or astronomical time clock controls for security lighting
--Repaint or resurface roof to make it more reflective if necessary
--Develop shutdown procedures to maximize savings during holidays
--Install attic fans to exhaust hot air on warm days
--Repair leaking faucets
--Provide inservice programs for custodial personnel
--Develop a scheduled maintenance and repair program
--Incorporate an energy conservation unit into the curriculum
--Use light reflective colors when repainting rooms
HOW DOES RESCHEDULING OF SCHOOL YEAR HELP SAVE ENERGY?
There have been various types of rescheduling programs attempted depending
upon the area of the country. Many involve lengthening the Christmas vacation in
northern climates or determining which months are the coldest and shutting down
the school during that period of time. However, many of those systems have
proven counter-productive to total savings of energy.
The 4-day week has proven to be the most productive rescheduling program.
From studies completed at schools using the 4-day week, the following savings
were reported by Richburg and Edelen (1981):
--Gasoline consumption for buses was reduced 22.5 percent
--Bus maintenance costs were reduced by 18 percent
--Electrical consumption was reduced by 23 percent
--Heating fuel consumption was reduced by 7-25 percent
WHERE CAN I RECEIVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?
--National Technical Information Service U.S. Department of Commerce 5285
Port Royal Road Springfield, VA 22161
--Tenneco, Inc. Public Affairs Department P.O. Box 2511 Houston, TX 77001
--Director, Energy and Education Action Center Room 514 -- Reporters Building
300 7th Street S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202
--Technical Information Center Box 62 Oak Ridge, TN 37830
--American Association of School Administrators 1801 North Moore St.
Arlington, VA 22209
--Energy Conservation Council P.O. Box 7800 Atlanta, GA 30309
--Association of School Business Officials Publication Department 720 Garden
St. Park Ridge, IL 60068
--Colorado Department of Education Alternative Calendar Programs C.L.
Stiverson, Coordinator 303 W. Colfax Denver, CO 80204
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Canipe, S. L. PERSPECTIVES ON SCHOOL ENERGY USE. North Carolina, 1979. ED 182
Day, W. C. "Energy Conservation and Schools." SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS 49
Department of Energy. ENERGY AUDIT WORKBOOK FOR SCHOOLS. Washington, D.C.:
Office of State and Local Programs, Department of Energy, 1978. ED 164 284.
Presley, M. H. and others. SAVING MONEY THROUGH ENERGY CONSERVATION.
Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma State University, 1976. ED 164 285.
Richburg, R. W. and R. W. Edelen. AN EVALUATION OF THE FOUR-DAY SCHOOL WEEK
IN COLORADO: THE FINAL REPORT. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University,
Department of Education, 1981. ED 211 314.
Stephan, E., R. Pusey, and W. Warner. ENERGY AND RURAL SCHOOLING. Paper
presented at the Rural Education Seminar, College Park, Maryland, May 29-31,
1979. ED 172 972.
Tenneco, Inc. SOMETHING SPECIAL FROM SEED: ENERGY EFFICENCY FOR EDUCATORS AND
STUDENTS. Houston, TX: SEED, 1979. ED 182 807.
Tenneco, Inc. THE FOURTH R. RESOURCEFULNESS IN SCHOOL ENERGY CONSERVATION.
Houston, TX: SEED, 1979. ED 182 806.
Woodbury, K. B., Jr. "A Practical Guide to Energy Conservation." SCHOOL
BUSINESS AFFAIRS 46 (January 1980):20-23.