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Utility Technical Advice Helps Denver School Solve Hot/Cold Problem

It's not surprising that utility rebates capture facility managers' attention. For example, since 2009, Con Edison alone has paid out $189 million in incentives to 217,000 customers that made energy upgrades. It has four categories of energy-efficiency programs that offer incentives, including one for large commercial and industrial facilities. That category offers rebates and incentives to facilities that install energy-efficient gas and electric equipment and perform technical studies. In addition, incentives are offered for projects that cut peak electricity use, explains Allan Drury, Con Ed spokesperson.

It's important for facility managers to understand that rebates are only one type of incentive available from many utilities. Technical advice can be valuable as well.

In some cases, energy savings isn’t the initial goal of the project. At Castro Elementary School in Denver, both the staff and students complained that it was too hot at times and too cold at other times. Because the building was relatively new, it didn't need new equipment, so the Denver Public School's sustainability department worked with Xcel Energy to determine how the building could operate as efficiently as possible. The answer was recommissioning.

Xcel Energy's experts found several opportunities for energy savings, including a variable frequency drive retrofit and tune-ups for the chiller and air handling units. As incentive to complete the work, Xcel Energy awarded Denver Public Schools a $10,900 rebate to implement the energy efficiency measures identified in the recommissioning project. If the school moves ahead with the rest of the measures identified through the recommissioning study, it will receive an additional $37,095 in rebates.

"By tuning up the various systems in the building and making sure settings were optimal, we could help the school save money but more importantly, provide a comfortable setting for students, staff and faculty," says Melanie Gavin, Xcel Energy account manager.

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