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North Carolina County School District Keeps Energy Costs Down Through Period of Extreme Enrollment Growth

Greg Clark, Senior Director of Maintenance and Operations at Wake County (N.C.) Public School System, discusses how his school district manage to keep energy costs down through a period of extreme enrollment growth. The school district's energy use increased only 0.8 percent during a five-year period when square footage increased by 13.5 percent and enrollment increased by 11.6 percent. For their efforts, Wake County was named a recipient of a 2014 Facility Maintenance Decisions Achievement Award.

Greg Clark

Greg Clark
Senior Director of Maintenance and Operations
Wake County (N.C.) Public School System

1. What kinds of staffing and workload challenges did the enrollment growth create for your department?

In the face of continuing growth, along with resource reductions, we have worked to find ways to become more efficient through reorganization and shouldering additional responsibilities.

2. How did priorities on your staff change with these additional responsibilities?

We had to take a closer look at our priorities and focus more intently on items that had the most direct impact on the classroom.

3. Your district relied heavily on the building automation system to help control the energy costs associated with the growth. What was your role in specifying and installing the BAS?

My role was largely in support of our subject matter experts. We completed an upgrade of our controls specifications in an effort to provide consistency and clearer direction to our designers and installation vendors along with operational efficiencies.

4. What were some of the challenges your staff faced with using and fine-tuning the BAS to accommodate teachers, students and staff?

It's always a challenge managing 22 million square feet. There are a number of different school calendars along with daily schedule changes required due to school programs and community use of the facilities. One of our biggest challenges currently is maintaining functionality of 30 sites that are still on a dial-up BAS. Thankfully there is a capital project being initiated to bring these sites up to current standard.

The project is estimated to save approximately 134,000 kilowatts annually in energy consumption

5. What lessons did you learn as a manager throughout the process?

I learned to more closely focus on making adjustments to practice and performance that were within my span of control. I cannot overemphasize the importance of quality staff that cares about their work product and the impact it has on instruction.

posted:  10/3/2014