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.