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September 4, 2014 -
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Before moving forward with energy-efficient lighting retrofits in May 2012, Harford County (Md.) Public Schools first needed to take a step back. The district had been expanding, constructing new buildings and renovating others to meet growing enrollment.
One result of the expansion was that the district's inventory of lighting-system parts expanded — but not efficiently. The inventory of unused fixtures created frustration for maintenance technicians who already were dealing with too many work orders.
"I used to go into a stockroom, and you'd have 50 lights for 50 different fixtures," says Vivian Comes, building engineer for the district's Southampton Middle School.
Through a series of lighting projects, the district streamlined its inventory management practices, curtailed energy use and produced major bottom-line benefits in the process.
Reducing operating costs in the district was the primary goal of a wide-ranging retrofit program. The projects included upgrades in 42 of the district's 53 buildings, which are spread over 525 square miles and house 38,000 students and a staff of 3,600.
To help offset the costs of upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems and kitchen and refrigeration equipment in dining areas, the district participates in the local utility's incentive program.
"Within the past two years, we've collected over $1.5 million in incentive funds," says Andrew Cassilly, the district's resource conservation manager. "What we were able to do with our projects was to keep from elevating our utility budget. Even though we're building new schools that produce more energy and (have) more devices in them, we haven't raised our utility budget in over eight years."
Money from the incentive program paid for new lighting technology at 35 schools. The upgrades included installing LEDs, T8, and T5 fixtures and motion sensors throughout the district. The lighting upgrades helped the school system save more than 4 million kilowatts of energy per year and $443,000 annually in energy costs.
"With the energy-efficiency incentives that are out there, we really wanted to try and maximize and capture as much of those incentive dollars as possible," Cassilly says. "We really went from doing one, two or possibly three lighting retrofits a year to going full tilt on a large project."