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Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

With buildings averaging 65 years in age, it was important to reinvest in our neighborhood treasures. The opportunity to not only improve the student environment but optimize our community resources through energy saving strategies. Impacting 72 facilities, which collectively represent more than 6M square feet of occupied space was a major undertaking, but we have realized our goals and objectives.

The District recognized the need to replace or repair outmoded mechanical, electrical and building envelope systems. During the evaluation and selection process of replacement hardware, the use of efficient systems was deemed a priority. Fiscal savings realized by the utilization of energy-efficient equipment were seen as a common-sense way to help fund the district’s core mission — that being educational opportunities and activities.

Like many school districts, we have been regularly underfunded to meet our basic needs to educate students. Through millions of dollars in energy savings, we have been able to hold on to some programs which may have been lost. We believe it to be a community expectation to optimize our resources. By evaluation of a variety of systems, we were able to justify our course of action through data.

District culture and previously accepted habits were a challenge. We needed to think differently than the past. Reducing convenience appliances as example. Overcoming the educational aspect of introducing new technologies to building and district-level staff through communication. Revision of operations and maintenance plans and practices. Identification and prioritization of funding to most effectively capture return on investment. Realization that one particular system or technology would not fit all of the identified needs across the district. Initially identifying design team partners that were receptive to the specification and utilization of some technologies, such as geothermal heating and cooling, that were not actively being implemented by other similar organizations. Identification of external resources, programs and partners that could assist the district in the development of a holistic approach to energy efficiency. Examples: Vendor and utility partnerships. Districtwide rollout of some efficiency measures — i.e., facility-specific energy plans prepared and approved at the building level; controlled shutdown of computers and technology equipment; and district-wide temperature set points and standards.

Results: 1) Reduced energy consumption. Fiscal year 2016 energy consumption is 180,890.8 mBtu less than our baseline year of fiscal year 2008. (See attachments). 2) Reduced expenditures. Energy costs have decreased by 33 percent as compared to the baseline year. (See attachments). 3) Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent (3,044.9 CO2e) as compared to baseline year. 4) Created an opportunity to provide closer relationships and communication between facilities management and building-level staff. Opportunities to assist in the educational process and provide a hands-on component to some educators’ coursework. 5) Award winning/recognition. Six Energy Star Partner of the Year awards (four as Sustained Excellence winners), three Energy Star Climate Communicator awards, three Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence awards, Green Ribbons School award, Building Operating Management award, three MidAmerican Energy Excellence in Energy Efficient Design awards. 6) Requests from regulators and policy makers to help others implement energy efficiency measures. Using our knowledge and practices to help other school districts. 7) More comfortable and healthier environments for students. 8) Community communication of initiatives have helped extend or approve voter tax levies. 9) More dollars for our core mission of educating students.

In-house Participants: Dave Berger, Darrell Gierstorf, Sarah Holland, Tyler Puls, Jamie Wilkerson.

Additional Information

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