Sprawling Utah School District Gains Control Over Energy Use and Cuts Costs by 7%

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School districts have demanding requirements when it comes to energy use. When school is in session, buildings need to be well-lit and comfortable no matter the outdoor temperature. After school hours, it’s likely some rooms and facilities, such as the gym, will still be in use while others are not. The same goes for night-time, when gyms and auditoriums may be used multiple times per week while the rest of the building is dark – or should be.

Multiply that across all the buildings in a K-12 school district, toss in the on again/off again demands of summer use, and the challenge becomes that much greater. Now consider that while some buildings may be newer and reasonably energy efficient, many are likely to be 20 to 40 years old or more.

The Davis School District in Utah is a case in point. It comprises 59 elementary schools, 16 junior high schools, eight regular and three alternative high schools plus administrative facilities – more than 90 buildings and over 10 million square feet of space in all. The buildings range in age from brand-new to 60 years old.

Education is the school district’s first priority and to accomplish that it needs to provide a productive learning environment. “Every penny that we save in energy expenditures, we can put right back in the classrooms: we can hire more teachers, we can have more technology for students,” says Dr. W. Bryan Bowles, superintendent of Davis School District.

Toward that end, a few years ago the company embarked on a project to get a better handle on its energy use by transitioning all of its buildings to Schneider Electric’s SmartStruxure™ solution building management system (BMS).

Among the challenges was to bring the older buildings – many with various BMS systems, including TAC I/NET™, and communicating through multiple protocols –into SmartStruxure solution along with the newer ones, says Doug Anderson, Energy Manager for the district.

Implemented by local Schneider Electric partner, Utah Yamas Controls, the integration proceeded swiftly. The team integrated nearly 9 million square feet of building space to SmartStruxure solution “within a matter of hours,” Anderson says.

Dashboard screen shot from an interactive touchscreen in the lobby of one of the schools.

That was more than two years ago. Now, using StruxureWare™ Building Operation software, the district can manage, monitor and control all of its buildings from a single system. End users including principals, teachers and custodians now have anytime, anywhere access to energy controls, enabling them to remotely turn air conditioning and heating systems on and off as needed. Such ubiquitous access ensures heating and cooling systems run only when needed, and that no energy is wasted on unoccupied rooms.

For Anderson and his team, the system provides reporting and trending data and watch windows. If something falls out of a predefined range, the system requires users to acknowledge the alarm, follow a checklist, and complete cause notes to ensure they follow proper procedures. Staff can also access the system via a mobile application to remotely diagnose and fix problems.

The solution is even becoming part of students’ educational experience. One school has an interactive touchscreen in its lobby that enables students and staff to see energy use in real time. Teachers can likewise access usage data from their classrooms and use it as a learning tool.

Best of all, the SmartStruxure solution has enabled the district to significantly curb its energy use.

“One of the things I’m most proud of in the Davis School District is that we’ve grown 18% in square footage and reduced energy consumption in that same time period by 7%,” says Dr. Bowles.

To learn more about the Davis School District’s experience with SmartStruxure solution, check out this video featuring Dr. Bowles and Mr. Anderson as well as a case study on the project.

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