Schools consume a lot of energy. The amount of power needed by the lights and HVAC systems for an entire school of learning students is no small sum. When the energy needed for computers, smart boards, and other electronics is added in, it is easy to see why being energy-efficient is so important for schools.
The Best 8 Ways to Make Your School Building More Efficient
1. Use Natural Light Where Possible
Using artificial lighting can be a real waste when natural light is available. During the design phase, sunlight should be maximized to light up the school as much as possible. Natural lighting not only saves on energy usage, but it is also more pleasant for the students and teachers. Natural light has positive impacts on students’ moods, concentration, and focus levels. All of those positive benefits coupled with lower energy usage make natural light one of the best options for making schools more efficient.
While natural light can be amazing, at the wrong angle or intensity it can be overwhelming. Blinds and window fixtures are easy ways to give teachers control over their classrooms with the ability to adjust the amount of light. For teachers, opening up the blinds and turning off the overhead lights is an easy way to reduce energy usage and make your school more efficient.
2. Make Your Lighting Smart
Natural light has amazing benefits, but artificial lighting is almost always needed to keep schools safe and efficient. When adding lighting sources, make them smart. Light and occupancy sensors can allow lights to only be turned on when they are needed. With light sensors, the lights can determine if sufficient light is coming in from natural sources. Only when it gets dark will the lights turn on.
Occupancy sensors add an additional level of fine-tuning to a school’s lighting system. Occupancy sensors detect when people are in a room and can trigger the lights to turn on or off. While schedules are another good option, occupancy sensors truly only turn on when needed, while schedules try to predict when light will be needed.
3. Smart Power Strips
Using smart power strips in your school is a great way to make sure that devices are not wasting power when they are not needed. Having many items plugged into a power strip makes it really easy to quickly plug many devices in or unplug them all at once. Smart power strips make things even easier by automatically turning off the power to the plugged in devices on a set schedule.
4. Energy-Efficient Cooling
Heating and cooling systems typically make up the majority of a school’s energy consumption. Keeping an entire school comfortable for teachers and students is no easy task. People and electronics emit a great deal of heat which must be counteracted with air conditioning. More energy-efficient equipment like heat pumps and energy recovery systems are available and should be considered for new construction or when replacing old equipment.
In the same way that natural light can be incredibly beneficial, natural ventilation can not only reduce energy usage, but can improve indoor air quality as well.
Louvers and dampers are a great way to ventilate a school and provide a steady stream of fresh air for teachers and students. American Warming and Ventilating has a wide range of products to help schools be more efficient through ventilation.
Efficient and properly designed ventilation systems reduce the amount of energy the central HVAC system must use, in order to provide a better environment for students and teachers. The fresh air drawn in through ventilation dilutes the contaminants in the school’s air. According to the EPA, better ventilation leads to improved academic performance.
Recycling not only gives material another chance at life but also helps schools to be more efficient. A great deal of energy goes into making items like tin cans. Recycling these products not only keeps them out of landfills, but also saves a lot of the energy that went into making them from being wasted. Teachers are in a great position to develop programs that encourage recycling at schools to make it fun for the students.
7. Better Appliances
Cafeteria kitchens typically use a great deal of energy to produce the food for all of those hungry students. ENERGY STAR appliances are designed to use less energy than most appliances, which can translate into big savings for a school. The EPA published a guide on energy efficiency in schools and how ENERGY STAR appliances have a big impact. The payback time on many of these appliances is often just a few years.
8. Reduce Energy in Unused Spaces
Many parts of a school are not used on a daily basis. These buildings could be an auditorium or gymnasium or maybe just certain classrooms. Keeping these areas energy-efficient is important to the whole school’s energy usage. Keeping the lights off and making sure appliances are unplugged is an easy step. Keep doors shut to these areas to prevent airflow from going where it is not needed.
If these areas have their own thermostats, keep the temperature set a bit less comfortable than the other areas of the school. With smart thermostats and building systems, it is easier to schedule the HVAC system to make sure the building is comfortable just in time to be used, while saving energy when not in use.
At the End (and Beginning!) of the Day, Make it a Team Effort
Energy efficiency in schools is more effective when everyone pitches in. Teachers, students, and administrators can all play a key role in making schools more energy-efficient. Having everyone involved also helps to reinforce behavior. Making these changes where possible will help your school save energy, save money, and be more efficient.
Cover Your School Building’s Ventilation Needs with AWV
Proper ventilation is a key aspect with designing and operating an energy efficient school. At AWV, we offer an incredible array of dampers and louvers to handle any and all of your ventilation needs. To learn more about AWV’s ventilation products, reach out to the team today!