Bond helps AISD earn 39 ENERGY STAR certifications and counting

Crane "flys" new RTU to the roof of South Davis Elementary

Nov. 16, 2018 - The AISD recently announced that 39 district buildings have earned the ENERGY STAR certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and 15 more are in process to be certified in 2020. That means that 39 AISD buildings – and counting – are verified to perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy performance and many other metrics, including occupancy, hours of operation and more.

Among those certified are new bond-funded facilities like McNutt and Peach elementary schools. Others, like the new AISD Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center and the Agricultural Science Center, will undoubtedly earn the certification once they have been open long enough to qualify.

The 2014 Bond program’s impact on energy efficiency extends beyond the new buildings. Many of the bond’s renovation projects have included measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

“I think a lot of the bond is paying off,” said Danny Helm, AISD energy manager, as he described the bond’s impact on earning the ENERGY STAR certification for so many existing buildings.

“As we do more bond work, I think we’ll get even more buildings certified,” he said.

The bond-funded renovations at AISD campuses that have improved energy efficiency include new exterior LED lighting, better insulation and dual-pane windows. Most impactful have been major mechanical replacements and improvements. Many new high-efficiency HVAC roof-top units and chillers have been installed. Plus, pneumatic controls have been replaced with direct digital controls, which give the district much greater control over each campus’ mechanical systems.

“We save energy by managing it better,” Helm said.

The district is definitely managing it better. Since 2010-2011, the AISD has reduced the amount of electricity it uses per square foot by 28 percent.

The ENERGY STAR certifications are the fruit of that better management and a well-planned and well-executed bond program.

To earn the certification, the district first entered various utility and building metrics from each campus into an online system, Portfolio Manager, hosted by the EPA. The system provided a preliminary rating based on those metrics. Then, outside engineers walked and analyzed each building to verify the data.

The resulting 39 ENERGY STAR certified buildings – and 54 by 2020 – are a major accomplishment for the district.

“In fact,” wrote Danny Helm, “I am being told that no other district in the state has this many buildings ENERGY STAR certified.”

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