Washington School District Makes The Grade In Energy Efficiency

on September 02, 2015 at 5:00 PM
JD Zellerbach

As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, Camas School District in Washington not only surpassed its energy efficiency goals, but did so five years early. | Photo courtesy of Camas School District.

Fall is nearly here and students across the nation are heading back to class, getting ready to show their school spirit at football games and other sporting events. This year, students at Washington’s Camas School District have something to be extra proud of: their district’s winning sustainability efforts in the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge.

In the spring of 2009, the district committed to reducing its energy use 20 percent by 2020 as part of the Better Buildings Challenge. It is one of seven school districts striving to meet this challenge and the first to reach its goal. In fact, Camas not only surpassed the goal with improved annual energy performance of 28 percent, but did so five years early.

Savings across the district were achieved by identifying inefficiencies in equipment, lighting and control systems and making necessary energy upgrades. The schools also created a resource conservation management program that included active participation from all personnel and students and set up an operating schedule for HVAC and related equipment to be set in unoccupied mode when buildings were empty or closed.

A big part of Camas’ success was identifying how to maximize energy savings. Through observations, trending and data logging, the district discovered the HVAC control system was not functioning properly at its six-decades-old administration headquarters. After improvements were made to the main HVAC systems, the district reduced energy use at the four-building headquarters by 20 percent.

Similarly, the district’s Lacamas Heights Elementary School is saving nearly 20 percent on energy bills thanks to a number of energy efficiency upgrades to the HVAC systems and modifications to control systems that both improve comfort and reduce energy use.

Additionally, the district earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification at all schools in the district, which means the buildings are in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide when it comes to energy efficiency.

Better Buildings is an initiative designed to improve the lives of the American people by driving leadership in energy innovation.  Through Better Buildings, the Energy Department partners with leaders in the public and private sectors to make the nation’s homes, commercial buildings and industrial plants more energy efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices. Visit energy.gov/betterbuildings to learn more and follow@BetterBldgsDOE on Twitter.