Anchorage Energy Star

Anchorage Energy Star

Little things add up to ENERGY STAR for 100-year-old building
 
Kentucky School Advocate
December 2017
 
By Matt McCarty
Staff writer
Charlie Bryant (left), facilities director for Anchorage Independent Schools, talks with Superintendent Kelley Ransdell and Principal Andrew Terry. All three said educating students and staff about the importance of energy savings has made a difference.
When it comes to energy savings, Anchorage Independent Schools is proof that doing the little things can add up to big results.

Anchorage, a K-8 district in Jefferson County, houses its elementary school in a 1915 building. In 2016, more than a century after it was built, the school was designated as ENERGY STAR certified.

Charlie Bryant, the district’s facilities director since 2014, said he had no idea the school could reach ENERGY STAR as quickly as it has. “When we first started, I didn’t know what our energy rating even was,” he said. “Right now we’re at 90.”

Bryant and his staff have installed digital thermostats, put automatic lights in nearly all bathrooms and replaced 179 windows. They are also switching to LED lights when current incandescent bulbs go out.
 
 
Charlie Bryant (left), facilities director for Anchorage Independent Schools, talks with
Superintendent Kelley Ransdell and Principal Andrew Terry. All three said educating students
and staff about the importance of energy savings has made a difference for the school.

“We know those are costing us about 4 cents a day to run,” Bryant said of the existing lightbulbs. “The LEDs are costing us a little over a penny and a half a day to run. We have over 2,000 bulbs. We’ve changed a little over 800 now so we still got a ways to go, but that’s infused significant savings for us there.”

The digital thermostats cost $190 each and the district installed them on its own. Contractors were used to help with wiring when needed, Bryant said.

The district’s HVAC has 42 split systems that range in size from three to 40 tons, Bryant said. He said the district could not afford to replace them so it added digital thermostats to control the units. “We bring them on when we want to, we shut them off in the afternoons, where in the past we weren’t able to do that.”

The district looked at adding an automation system to its existing HVAC. Bryant said the cost would’ve been $70,000, which “wasn’t cost effective” with the age of the equipment. He said as the equipment fails, the district would replace them with more energy efficient units.

“It’s a challenge for us. We know no matter what we’re doing right now, there’s a certain point where I can’t do much better as far as HVAC,” Bryant said. “The windows are going to help us with that but we know there’s air loss just because of the age of the school, but we’re going to continue to try everything we can to change as much as we can.”

The district’s EUI (energy use intensity) has decreased from more than 70 to 54.3. “We’ve already dropped over 28 percent so we know we’re doing right,” Bryant said.

Andrew Terry, the principal at Anchorage Public Elementary School, said “a lot of people don’t realize how old the building is because I think it is the maintenance that Charlie and his crew does to keep things up to date and looking the way it does.

“The windows that got put in here I think are going to make a huge difference,” Terry said.
Oldest ENERGY Star schools in Kentucky
Energy education
Superintendent Kelley Ransdell said the district has also been educating staff and students about energy habits.

“We have lots of employees and students to educate and to enthuse about saving energy and to build good habits in turning lights off when you leave the room,” she said.

Bryant said the money saved by teachers turning out lights “seems like not much when we’re talking pennies, but those pennies add up over the course of a month, and now the teachers have gotten on board.”

Terry added that teachers have also been doing little things like turning off computers and uplugging refrigerators over breaks. “Just little things, but each individual does that and that adds up.”

Ransdell said it’s hard to pinpoint how much money the district has saved because of weather fluctuations and other variables. She said until there is multi-year data, the district would need to do more research to determine savings.

“We really haven’t spent time calculating the particular dollars saved because our goal is to just become as energy-efficient as we can, to be good stewards of the environment,” she said. “To use it as an opportunity to impress on our students good energy-saving habits that they can carry home with them and that they can carry” into their adult lives.

Ransdell said the district did analyze the payback on investment when replacing bulbs and adding digital thermostats.

“We looked for how many years it would take for the payback and then compared that against the energy standard for it being a good decision to invest those dollars. So we’re cost-conscious,” she said. “There are things we could do to become even more energy efficient but they’re expensive and the savings that we would realize wouldn’t make them a good financial investment.”

Ransdell and Bryant also credited Jim McClanahan, energy manager for KSBA-School Energy Managers Project, for working with the district on ways to become more energy-efficient.

“Jim really was super nice to share with us his expertise and to do some training with us,” Ransdell said. “It really helped us to get off the ground.”

Bryant said if districts with older buildings are looking to save money, he would recommend evaluating the condition of all of the equipment and then looking at options. Ransdell added that making sure existing equipment is well-maintained and serviced is an important way to reduce energy usage.

“The second thing, because it doesn’t cost anything, is to try to educate, enthuse and collaborate with all the staff and the students to impact human habits and use of energy,” she said. “That doesn’t cost anything. … Things we have done haven’t been really cutting edge or innovative, just implementing those good practices.”
 
Middle school STEM Club focuses its energy toward awareness 
Anchorage students talk to teacher Raechel Minor. The students are members of the school’s STEM Club, which made energy awareness its focus last school year..
Members of Anchorage Public Elementary School’s middle school STEM Club decided in the fall of 2016 to make energy reduction the club’s focus.

Eighth-grader Aidan Kash said the club focused on doing things throughout the school and community to raise awareness about energy and to reduce the amount of energy used.

“We did things like have a competition throughout the school to see which classrooms used the least amount of energy. We went to community events and talked about energy awareness. We had a blackout day where we shut off as much lights in the school and used as little electricity as possible,” Kash said.

During the blackout day in November 2016, older students taught lessons to the younger grades about the importance of energy awareness. Cafeteria workers prepared meals without using an oven. And teachers turned off classroom lights and did not use electronic whiteboards that day.
 
Anchorage students talk to teacher Raechel Minor. The students are members of the school’s STEM Club, which made energy awareness its focus last school year.

Kash said teaching younger students about energy efficiency is “really important because they’re going to be in my grade in just a few years and they’re going to be the ones who have to tell the younger grades so we don’t run out of energy and all die.”

Raechel Minor, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Anchorage who supervises the STEM Club, said the blackout day was a springboard to a competition in spring 2017 in which the STEM students conducted audits of every classroom, and teachers could receive an award based on number of points earned for being energy-efficient.

Minor said the students in the STEM Club won the National Energy Education Development Project’s Rookie of the Year Award for Kentucky and were able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the national conference.
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