Try these 5 elementary tips to save energy in your school facilities

Thursday, February 8 2018 9:26 AM
By Jon Goering

Opportunities exist for school districts to reduce their operational expenses and apply those savings toward improving student learning. 

Many school facilities cannot manage the increased energy loads required of them because they weren’t designed for it.

There was a fifth-grade student – we’ll call her Ella – who couldn’t read at more than a Kindergarten level.

Ella found a book in the library she wanted to read, but she couldn’t do it without help. At her school, Ella had access to a technology forward, web-based platform to read the story aloud to her, so he took advantage of it.

And then things began to change.

Ella's reading improved. In fact, Ella asked her teacher if she could take the physical book home because she wanted to read it on her own.

In no time, Ella was reading at the second-grade level.

The reading technology helped Ella gain the courage to give reading a try. Imagine the confidence she gained by learning to do something many of us take for granted.

Looking for Save Money by Saving Energy

Would you like to introduce new technology in your district’s classrooms, but the budget won’t allow it?

Perhaps your teachers have asked for tablets to assist their students with reading or math, but the cost is prohibitive. Or gathering student feedback is one of your initiatives but the district doesn’t have the means to do it.  

You’ve attempted to generate funding by identifying areas where your district can cut costs, such as reducing operating expenses in your buildings, but those efforts have fallen short.

Not anymore.  

In this post, we’ll identify five simple, inexpensive ways school districts can save dollars in operational expenses, freeing them up to apply those savings to the one place they prefer – their students.

The Case for Saving Energy

A number of U.S. schools were built in the 1970s. It’s no surprise, then, that facilities cannot manage the increased energy loads required of them - they weren’t designed for it!

Think about this: on average, lighting, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration account for more than 60 percent of energy use in schools. Imagine the money you could save if you reduced your energy spend just 5 percent.

We’re talking thousands of dollars! That’s money now available to dedicate to student learning.

5 Ways to Save Energy in Schools

In most cases, schools can find ways to trim operational costs in their facilities that don’t require herculean efforts – or spending. Consider these five tips:

  1. Check your building controls system settings. Building automation systems (BAS) act as the brains of a facility, monitoring heating, cooling, electrical, and lighting systems. A BAS allows users to set schedules to maximize a system’s efficiency. In the process, it collects valuable data outlining how building systems are operating, identifies trends, and records operating logs. Plus, a BAS will identify problem areas in a system so they can be addressed immediately, which saves money. Have a maintenance professional review your BAS settings to ensure they match the varied needs of your facilities and adjust them, if necessary.
  2.  Check the seals around doors and windows. Air seeks paths in or out of buildings. Doors and windows that don’t close properly or have faulty seals allow air to seep in or to escape, which causes heating or cooling systems to work longer – and harder. And that wastes energy. Seal gaps in windows, doors, and walls with caulking or stripping and along where the building and foundation connect. Doing so will increase comfort, better control humidity, reduce noise, and improve indoor air quality.
  3. Turn off vending machine lights. Called “delamping,” turning off vending machine lights is a solution often overlooked, but it reduces energy use. Students may complain at first, but the lighting won’t affect the coolness of their drinks, and it could save 35 percent. Placing a soda machine in the shade also will reduce energy consumption because the machine won’t have to work as hard to keep beverages cool.
  4. Planned maintenance. Stay ahead of heating and cooling system issues by taking a proactive approach to maintenance. You will eliminate many major breakdowns, which on average cost more to repair than scheduling regular maintenance. Plus, the disruptions caused by system outages negatively affect students, teachers, and staff. Planned maintenance can reduce the need for emergency requests by 60 percent.
  5. Changing behavior. It never hurts to try this one, because it costs little to nothing! Changing human behavior can lead to annual energy savings of up to 10 percent. Challenge students and teachers to turn off lights in rooms that are unoccupied and unplug computers, printers and copy machines at the end of the day. Close windows and doors to prevent losing conditioned air in the building, and switch off power to electronics with power or smart strips. Use natural light when available, turn off unnecessary lights, and lower or raise window blinds, depending on the season.


As a school leader, you want students to achieve their maximum learning potential. In today’s education climate, that often requires the use of technology.

But technology has a price, and school budgets don’t always allow for the purchase of new technological widgets.

By finding ways to reduce operational costs, however, you can free up money to help increase student performance.

Would you like to identify areas where your district may be able to reduce operational expenses? For more information, please email Jonathon Goering by clicking here or call 316-265-9655.

Knipp Services works with commercial and industrial building owners to lower operational expenses and increase building comfort.

We provide services that enable owners to have high-performance buildings. “Making Buildings Better” sums up the mission statement of Knipp Services.

You can follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitterGoogle+YouTube, and 360Wichita.


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