Innovative Energy Management
Innovative Energy Management
Posted on 12/26/2017
The auditorium of Valley Springs Middle School has been outfitted with efficient LED lighting.By: Alesha Reardon, BCS Energy Management

In late 2017, with the urging and support of local students, the Buncombe County Commissioners passed a resolution to use 100 percent clean and renewable energy resources for all county operations by 2030, and all county homes and businesses by 2042. This landmark move for our community speaks to the commitment our local government has to sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.

School districts nationwide are finding that smart energy choices save money, provide healthier, more effective learning environments, and reduce maintenance costs. Additionally, saving energy makes good environmental sense. For the past three decades, Buncombe County Schools (BCS) has been on the forefront of energy conservation.

Solar curbs on top of Erwin High School.In the early 1990s, BCS established an energy policy that stands to this day, and in the mid-1990s began using automated systems to significantly curtail energy consumption and costs.

Let’s get into some of the specifics. Since then, BCS has installed thousands of flush valves to conserve water usage, reduced the size of water meters at 11 schools, retrofitted over 17,000 T12 fluorescents to lower wattage T8s, retrofitted gym lights from high-wattage metal halide to lower wattage T8 and T5 fluorescents, obtained Energy Star Certification for 37 of its facilities, built two LEED certified schools, installed occupancy sensors across the district; converted high-wattage wall packs to LED, replaced legacy HVAC equipment with high-efficiency equipment, converted parking lot lights to LED at no cost, and has extensively used the Duke Energy Utility Rebate program to offset project costs. Currently, BCS is undertaking a massive countywide LED retrofit. This is only a sampling of the projects and initiatives in place in our Energy Management Department.

Proposed Erwin and Reynolds High solar thermal layoutThe Countywide LED Initiative, launched in January of 2017, will convert approximately 50,000 fluorescent light fixtures to LED over the next two years. The project is estimated to save the school district over $900,000 annually, with a payback of less than three years. As of this month, BCS has completed 13 out of 37 facilities and has saved over 1,185,000 kilowatt hours since January of 2017. This reduction is equal to diverting 992 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or would provide enough energy to power 132 homes for one year.

From thoughtful, consistent control and monitoring of our conditioned environments, to small solar thermal installations (such as Erwin and Reynolds High’s innovative systems that will be installed this winter/spring), and district-wide LED lighting, Buncombe County Schools is proving that not only is saving energy good for the environment, but it pays to save energy.

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Learn more about Energy Management in Buncombe County Schools.
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