How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
A top priority of facilities operations for the 26-building Westerville City School District is to contribute to learning environments that ensure the safety, health, and well-being of students and staff, but to do so while being prudent with taxpayer monies.
We started our energy conservation program in 2007 with help from an energy management consulting company called Cenergistic. With their guidance we have saved by conducting energy audits and monitoring utility bills more closely than prior to launching this initiative. We have learned to better utilize our automated building controls (ABC) and have completed facility upgrades around the district that contribute to our energy savings. As a result of our efforts, over the past nine years we have documented more than $15 million in cost avoidances for our electric, water and gas utilities.
How we achieved our goal: Our ABC systems allow us to optimize fresh air intake by using the environment and outside air to naturally heat or cool a building. Another ABC system feature we have learned to use more effectively is the unoccupied/occupied setting, which is one of the most energy-saving features we utilize. We set the system to unoccupied status when students are not in a building, using 55 degrees for periods of heating and 85 degrees for periods of cooling. Realizing that there are times when exceptions must be made, we use a maintenance work order system that allows each facility to request additional HVAC runtime for after-school events. We also have been piloting the use of automated building controls to reduce exterior lighting usage. The functionality of our automated building control system is so critical to our success that we have even upgraded the software and control boards to enhance its operations.
While the measures described above have greatly decreased utility use across the district, the facility upgrades we have completed also contribute significantly to our energy savings. Some of the energy-conscious enhancements we’ve made since launching our conservation program include:
We continue to sustain our buildings with programs that have proven to be energy efficient. We have an extensive preventative maintenance program for HVAC equipment that includes regular replacement of filters, belts, and pulleys, while checking the normal operation of units and controls. Our district also has been nationally recognized for its integrated pest management (IPM) program. While the primary purpose of IPM is to control pest infiltration while minimizing the use of pesticides, the program works in concert with our energy program by monitoring and inspecting door sweeps and weather stripping at each building. As a result, pests are kept out of our facilities while heating and cooling remain efficient.
Conclusion: Westerville City Schools continue to strive to find better ways to monitor and reduce our energy usage without compromising an optimum environment for educating our students. Throughout this journey, we have done more than simply upgrade our facilities or infrastructure. Staff and students alike now realize that being energy-conscious yields dividends beyond the cost savings we achieve as a district. We are changing people’s behaviors and have become a learning community that truly understands the importance of being good stewards of the environment.
Tim O’Brien, Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Jeff LeRose, Executive Director, Facilities & Operations
Kenny Nichols, Director of Facilities
Laura Ehninger, Custodial Services Manager
Gary Craig, Maintenance Services Manager