Brevard Public Schools Take on Energy Conservation

Savings Averaging Over $2M Annually

by Herb Blauel

Over the past four years, energy conservation efforts at Brevard Public Schools have been a resounding success.  Since the Energy/Resource Conservation Department was started in July 2008, the District’s electrical consumption has been reduced by over 22 percent.  This was accomplished despite the addition of 468,000 square feet of new buildings.  The graph to the right illustrates this trend.

Since July 2008, the district has saved over $8.2 million in electrical costs.  This year’s electrical budget is almost $3 million less than it was in 2008.  Our conservation efforts will result in 60 of our 86 schools receiving Energy Star Awards from the United States Department of Energy.

How were these accomplishments achieved?  As might be expected, it has been a multifaceted process that involved the cooperation (and sometimes sacrifice) of all school district employees.

  • Winter Break and Spring Break shutdowns of all non-essential cooling and heating functions.  Employees were encouraged to take vacation during these times; those that chose to remain at their desks dressed appropriately to compensate for the lack of cooling and heating.
  • Summer Break shutdowns of school buildings with the exception of administrative areas and summer academic programs.
  • Reduction of hours for heating and cooling for normal school activities to the extent possible.  Of course, before and after school activities were provided with heating and cooling as necessary.
  • Cooling set points were raised to 76 degrees, and heating set points were lowered to 70 degrees.  These temperature set points fall within the “comfort zone” established by national energy organizations.
  • Reduced lighting levels to the minimum required by applicable codes.
  • Established target energy usage for each school and provided principals with monthly updates of their conservation accomplishments.
  • Regular meetings with the principal and the student Energy Action Patrol at each school to implement behavior modification programs that encouraged building occupants to conserve electricity.
  • Energy-saving improvements, such as solar film on windows and occupancy sensors.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) has been a terrific partner in assisting the School District by offering numerous rebate programs for energy-savings improvements and cost reduction programs such as the Seasonal Demand Time of use Rider (SDTR), which will be implemented this coming summer.  The saving associated with the SDTR program alone is expected to save the district an additional $350,000 each year.

This past year, two elementary schools (Apollo and Endeavour) were awarded grants by the Florida Solar Energy Center to install 10 kW solar panel arrays.  Not only are these solar panels providing power to the schools, they are a wonderful learning opportunity for students since everything from astronomy to electrical power to batteries can be incorporated into a classroom activity.  We are also working with FPL on a grant to install an additional solar system at one of our middle schools.

A related initiative is the upcoming Recycling Program.  While many of our schools are recycling at some level, we have been investigating the many options available and are preparing a program that will offer our schools a unified recycling option.  In addition to moving the school district in this “green” and socially responsible direction, we are hopeful that the end result will be savings in trash hauling and landfill costs.  We believe that this is an opportunity to involve our students in concrete examples of group participation and citizenship.

Interested readers may wish to visit our Energy/Resource Conservation Department website.  From the district website (www.brevardschools.org), click on “Departments,” and then on “Energy Resource Conservation.”  Not only does the website have useful energy conservation tips and links to related websites, every principal can access their school’s energy and water consumption on a monthly basis.  The chart below shows monthly electrical consumption for one of our schools.


Herb Blauel is Staff Engineer for Brevard Public Schools.


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