In a little over two decades, Loudoun County Public Schools has tied with Fairfax County Public Schools for having the second-most Energy Star certified buildings in Virginia.
The school system has 42 schools Energy Star certified, up from six schools in 2008. The certification identifies these buildings as more efficient than 65 percent of similar buildings nationwide.
The two school systems are beaten out only by grocery chain Food Lion, who have Energy Star certified 296 of their buildings in Virginia.
Michael Barancewicz started as an energy education specialist with Loudoun County Public Schools in 2004 and helped create many of the conservation practices that have helped contribute to $43.9 million in savings from energy efficiency and conservation since the effort’s beginning in 1992.
“It keeps the money where it belongs, and that’s in the school system serving the students,” Barancewicz said.
In 2009, 23 schools and one support office were EnergyStar certified, in 2010 that number grew to 36 and to 38 in 2011.
Energy Star certifications are given out based on the amount of energy used to power a building divided by its floor area compared with the energy used in an average building.
A rating of 75 on a scale from 1 to 100 is needed to qualify for the rating. 30 of Loudoun’s 42 Energy Star schools are rated 80 or over, eight of those are rated 90 or over.
The school system saves about $500,000 a year by using less electricity on “peak use” days, according to Barancewicz.
“There’s a lower price for electricity a number of days in a year,” Barancewicz said. “They [the electrical company] let us know in advance what days those will be.”
Using less electricity moves the schools into another bracket for electrical rates, dropping the price from 32 kilowatts/hour to 6 kilowatts/hour.
Barancewicz and his partner, John Lord, recommended the County buy Energy Star-certified computers.
Before the purchase, the County had to keep air conditioning on in computers labs throughout winter because of the heat given off by computers.
Turning the Energy Star computers off every Friday means the air conditioning runs less and saves the school system 25 cents a computer in electrical bills every weekend.
Energy Efficient Design
Loudoun County recently opened three new schools – Lunsford Elementary School, Frederick Douglass Elementary School and John Champe High School, which were designed to receive Energy Star ratings upon opening.
The skylights in Frederick Douglass use diffused glass that spreads the light throughout the gym and reduces glare on the glass, according to Brian Donnelly, senior associate with the Eastman Perkins.
Donnelly, the lead architect on the project, chose energy efficient or Energy Star certified systems in the building whenever possible.
“We used LED lights, which generate less heat so there’s less of a burden on the air conditioning,” Donnelly said.
The school, which opened in August, has a solar water heater and solar photovoltaic cells on the roof to reduce traditional electricity use.
Energy Star is one of the many environmental-friendly certifications a company or school district can pursue.
Another common environmental design is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), developed by the US Green Building Council, grades “green” buildings.
LCPS spokesman Wayde Byard said the County chose not to pursue those certifications because of cost.
“We do virtually everything that’s asked for for LEED-certified except it’s expensive,” Byard said.
A design and construction review from the U.S. Green Building Council for non-members can cost up to $27,500.
The 42 Energy Star-certified schools are:
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