New Bremen Local School District Superintendent Jason Schrader presented a plan to work with Energy Optimizers, USA to improve the energy system at their high school, auditorium, and at the Cardinal Booster Center.
The plan includes new LED lighting installations. The total cost should not exceed $234,860. Based on an energy audit, the first-year savings projection is $24,433; New Bremen can expect savings over the first 25 years of nearly $800,000.
The New Bremen LSD school board approved the plan unanimously. Work will begin in July, for completion before the next school year begins.
We can offer recommendations for energy savings, facility improvements, and indoor air quality measures. As you are probably already aware, CARES Act and ESSER funds may be used for some upgrades to your facilities and to help address challenges related to the pandemic.
While the primary method of COVID-19 transmission is person-to-person through respiratory droplets, which are released when someone with COVID-19 sneezes, coughs, or talks, current data does not support long-range aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as seen with measles or tuberculosis. Short-range inhalation of aerosols is a possibility for COVID-19, as with many respiratory pathogens, and short-range transmission is a possibility, particularly in crowded medical wards and in inadequately ventilated spaces. But even in the absence of definitive data, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has asserted that, “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled.”
So, while hand-washing with warm water and plenty of soap, along with surface-sanitizing and avoidance of close person-to-person contact are still the main methods to stay healthy, there are several other steps that building engineers can take to significantly minimize the risk of transmission.
America’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry is committed to offering solutions that can ensure the safest, healthiest possible indoor spaces for homeowners, school children and personnel, office workers, and those taking advantage of indoor recreational activities in shopping malls, movie theaters, and other venues.
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A generation of research and experience has proven that when properly maintained and operated, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) can reduce the spread of viruses. These critical building systems not only provide thermal comfort but, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), may also improve resistance to infection.1
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has recently addressed the issue of COVID-19 transmission in the “built environment” (BE), defined as the buildings, automobiles, and other indoor settings in which most humans spend more than 90 percent of their daily lives.2 There are several major transmission vectors that promote infection in these built environments, the report says, including occupant density, the amount of social activity and interaction, and human contact with abiotic surfaces. The cruise ship industry, nursing homes, and prisons have taught us about the risk of transmission from settings where these vectors intersect. However, we also have learned that proper hand-washing and social distancing work to reduce transmission.
Alongside these primary mitigants, HVAC systems work in a built environment to supply comfortable, clean, recaptured air, mix in healthy levels of fresh air, and contain or exhaust contaminants. Air delivery systems can reduce the transmission of viruses through inline filtration, something HVAC professionals are capable of assessing.
Air-conditioning systems are also critical in maintaining healthy humidity levels. “Maintaining a RH (relative humidity) between 40% and 60% indoors may help to limit the spread and survival of SARS-CoV-2 within the BE,” the ASM suggests, “while minimizing the risk of mold growth and maintaining hydrated and intact mucosal barriers of human occupants.”3
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) echoes these findings, saying that employers can decrease the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining a healthy work environment. “Consider improving and engineering controls using the building ventilation system,” the CDC suggests, including increased ventilation rates and increased percentage of outdoor air circulating through the system.4
Well before COVID-19, the Healthy Building Movement had begun to measure and improve air quality in the built environment to improve productivity and health. Of the nine foundations for a healthy building, five relate to HVAC, including air quality, ventilation, thermal health, moisture, dust, and pests. “There’s just no reason any more to economize on airflow and filtration,” Harvard Business School’s John Macomber says. “It’s a cheap way to help people be healthier.”5
A Restaurant Story
Modern, professionally maintained air conditioning can play a positive role in theccontrol of COVID-19 by ensuring a healthy built environment during and aftercthe pandemic. But news reports about an incident in a restaurant in China havecattributed the spread of the virus to the restaurant’s air-conditioning system.
Technically, none of this reporting was incorrect, but a careful look at the underlying details reveals a very different story.
By February 10, 2020, 10 people from three families who had eaten at the same air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou were infected with COVID-19. Researchers at the Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the virus was transmitted from an asymptomatic 63-year-old woman in one family to at least one member of each of two nearby families seated at neighboring tables about 1 meter apart. Because immunologists are confident that COVID-19 can be transmitted via large infected droplets caused by talking, sneezing or coughing, the researchers believe that this diner’s infected droplets — normally heavy enough to fall to the floor before reaching a table 1 meter away — were boosted by airflow from the restaurant’s air conditioning.
Seventy-three other restaurant customers were identified as having close contact with members of those three families, but none developed COVID-19 symptoms. Neither did the eight restaurant workers serving those guests. Six smear samples from the air conditioner’s air outlet and air inlet also tested negative for the virus.
In other words, the restaurant’s air-conditioning system was virus-free and operating as intended. “The key factor was the direction of the airflow,” researchers surmised.6
Proper airflow management is essential. Without knowing all the details in this case, it is likely that improper air distribution, combined with a lack of social distancing, may have contributed to the transmission in this restaurant. It is important to manage airflow and airflow velocity in an occupied space. Research and ASHRAE guidelines point to an upper limit of air velocity in occupied space of 40 fpm. To achieve this condition, the air needs to be properly blown by the HVAC system into the room, and properly distributed in the occupied space. It is unclear if the restaurant in this case met these criteria, but, based on the researchers’ conclusions, it appears unlikely.
“To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in restaurants,” the report concludes, “we recommend strengthening temperature monitoring surveillance, increasing the distance between tables, and improving ventilation.”7
Nowhere in the report is there any suggestion of turning off the air conditioning as mitigating action.
HVAC Best Practices
As previously mentioned, HVAC systems and the built environment can play an important role in preventing the spread of viruses. To ensure the proper indoor air purity, a good HVAC system should include some or all of the following:
Ultraviolet lights, ultraviolet photocatalytic oxidation, ionization, plasma, electrostatic active, active carbon, and other components can be installed to specifically target volatile organic compounds (VOC), bacteria, and viruses. Some of these options can be available as integral parts of the HVAC system.
Air conditioning is defined as the process of controlling temperature, humidity, purity and motion of air in an enclosed space. The main goal is to provide comfort to the occupants or needed precision temperature and humidity control.
In addition to comfort, good air conditioning improves health by reducing discomfort and thermal stress and associated susceptibility to viruses.8 It is also proven that proper air conditioning in buildings increases productivity in schools and offices.9
In general, the primary parameters of indoor comfort/health are:
Temperature: It is the primary element of comfort. The ideal temperature (typically set using a thermostat) varies depending on numerous conditions (season, location, clothes, etc.). ASHRAE and CDC recommend10 a range of 68.5-75 F in the winter, 75-80.5 F in the summer.
Humidity: Excessively high or low humidity leads to discomfort. A target range of 40%-60% relative humidity is normally used for comfort. ASHRAE recommends relative humidity below 60%.
Air Purity: In general, the presence of particulate, gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), radon, volatile organic compounds), as well as viruses and bacteria cause poor air quality, with negative consequences for the occupants. Air conditioning helps improve air quality with various techniques, of which the most widely used are outdoor ventilation and filtration. ASHRAE prescribes specific ventilation rates depending on the application.11 For instance, a conference room should see an outdoor ventilation rate of 15 cfm/person.
Air Velocity/Air Distribution: It is important that no sensation of draft (unwanted local cooling of the body caused by air movement) is caused by the air conditioning or other elements of air movement in the occupied space. Research and ASHRAE guidelines point to an upper limit of air velocity in the occupied space of 40 fpm.12
To achieve this condition, the air needs to be properly blown by the HVAC system into the room, and properly distributed in the occupied space.
1 “Pandemic COVID-19 and Airborne Transmission,” ASHRAE Environmental Health Committee, approved April 17, 2020, Web April 23, 2020, https://www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/covid-19/eiband-airbornetransmission.pdf.
2 Leslie Dietz et al., “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Built Environment Considerations To Reduce Transmission,” mSystems, Volume
5, Issue 2, March/April 2020, April 23, 2020, https://msystems.asm.org/content/5/2/e00245-20.
3 Leslie Dietz et al., “2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
4 “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, March 21, 2020, Web April 23, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.
5 Kristen Senz, “Why COVID-19 Raises the Stakes for Healthy Buildings,” Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, April 20, 2020, Web April 23,
6 Jianyun Lu et al., “COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020,” April 2, 2020, Web April 23, 2020,
7 Jianyun Lu et al., “COVID-19.”
8 ASHRAE Statement April 20, 2020: https://www.ashrae.org/about/news/2020/ashrae-issues-statements-on-relationship-between-covid-19-andhvac-
9 Joseph G. Allen and John D. Macomber, “Healthy Buildings – New Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity,” 2020.
10 ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55-2013: Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy.
11 ASHRAE Standard 62.1.
12 ANSI/ASHRAE Addendum b to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55-2013.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that educational facilities are among the top five highest energy consuming commercial buildings. Overall, they account for approximately 10% of all commercial energy consumption. The Department of Energy also reports that heating and cooling makes up approximately 35% of a building’s total energy usage. That number could actually be higher in schools, which often have very high ceilings and are poorly insulated. A frequently overlooked source of air loss is in your duct system.
Just how much money could your school be wasting on heating and cooling because of faulty ductwork? Here is some information you need to know.
Your school’s ductwork is a very large network that allows conditioned air to pass from your HVAC system to numerous points within your facility. The duct system may develop a number of problems that would subsequently result in air loss. A few of the problems you may encounter include:
These problems often go undetected in school systems. Teachers and administrators are often too busy to notice ductwork in classrooms and hallways. Your maintenance staff already have their hands full just trying to keep up with your grounds; they therefore do not have time to inspect your ductwork. In many cases, the only way to determine if you do indeed have a duct leak is to have a professional HVAC inspection performed.
According to the Department of Energy, when ducts leak hot air into unheated spaces, it can cost a homeowner hundreds of dollars per year. The cost could be greatly multiplied in schools, which are far larger and have a more complex duct system. Accordingly, one could easily assume the potential dollars lost could reach into the thousands or even tens of thousands annually.
A report from Xcel Energy tends to back this notion up. They have released a report showing that school districts spend more than $6 billion each year on energy. This amounts to an average of $0.67 per square foot on electricity and $0.19 per square foot on gas. Forbes claims that the amount schools spend on energy is actually closer to $8 billion, and is the second largest expenses after teacher salaries.
The Building Codes Assistance Project claims that it is important for ducts to maintain a consistent temperature as much as possible in order to improve efficiency. When ducts reside outside temperature-controlled locations, the subsequent leakage therefore decreases their efficiency by up to 40%. The leaked air would then be spilled out into the unconditioned areas rather than being funneled into inhabited spaces such as classrooms or offices.
Energy Star reports that between 20 and 30 percent of all air that moves through a duct system is lost due to leaks. They claim by sealing and insulating ducts, you could notice greater energy savings, better indoor air quality, and improved safety.
Repairing leaky ductwork is considerably less expensive than installing a new duct system. At the same time, your school could save a significant amount of money, in which case the repairs might actually pay for themselves. They will also provide a safer environment for children to learn in.
If your school is struggling with high energy bills and a lack of temperature control, leaking ductwork could be to blame. Contact us today here at Energy Optimizers USA to learn what you can do to stop the air loss and begin saving money.
DAYTON, Ohio, Feb. 26, 2020 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Energy Optimizers, USA (EOU) is proud to announce that it has been selected by the Ohio Council of Educational Purchasing Consortia (OCEPC) and its six purchasing co-operatives as the sole provider for its LED Lighting and Energy Savings Program for the third year of the program.
OCEPC – Energy Optimizers, USA
School districts and local governments across the state can now partner with EOU to develop and implement LED lighting, energy savings, and facility improvement projects. More than 450,000 students will benefit from the partnership. Competitive bidding has already been completed, reducing project costs and providing faster design and implementation.
Since 2009, Energy Optimizers, USA has worked with communities to increase energy efficiency in schools, government facilities, businesses, and more. EOU is proud to have the chance to work with school districts and local governments in Ohio to create innovative solutions to improve their facilities.
Implementing LED lights in classrooms not only cuts down on costs for schools and taxpayers, but it also creates a better learning environment for students and teachers alike.
“We are so pleased that the board members of the OCEPC have great confidence in our program, and that the results delivered both meet and exceed their project goals,” said Belinda Kenley, vice president of business development.
More than $17 million in energy savings projects have been sold to Ohio schools and public entities utilizing this program since 2018.
School administrators seeking either energy savings or facility improvement projects or funding for these projects can reach out to Energy Optimizers, USA by phone at (937) 877-1919 or by emailing Belinda Kenley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their experienced team of engineers and analysts will first perform an energy audit to understand the district’s immediate facility issues. The team will then strategize and present multiple recommendations on how the district can save money while also improving its facilities.
Indoor air quality is often a topic of discussion, but it’s not always brought up in the context of schools. The fact is that poor indoor air quality is a problem in many schools, especially older buildings. A study in 2014 revealed that the average age of school buildings in the nation is 55.
So, what impact does poor air quality have on students (and teachers?) It can have a number of negative impacts:
Health problems are more likely to be caused by indoor air quality problems if symptoms are only noticeable when the child is at school or if complaints are associated with particular times of the day or week. If children are reluctant to go to school or saying they “hate” school then that may indicate an issue, especially with younger children who may not realize the root cause of their feelings.
In other words, poor indoor air quality can affect just about every aspect of your child’s education and can result in a lower GPA, higher absenteeism, and children not getting into the college they want or even, in some cases, graduating on time.
There may only be a limited amount schools can do when dealing with aging infrastructure and other “high dollar” items. However, there are a few things school administrators…and even students and teachers can do:
Indoor air quality has a significant effect on a student’s ability to learn and a teacher’s ability to be effective. This translates to lower test scores and GPAs, and to students not being able to reach their goals. It can also contribute to staff absenteeism and staff turnover. If you suspect indoor air quality problems in your school, contact Energy Optimizers today for an energy audit to help you improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency in your building(s).
Good indoor air quality in a commercial building or school is a must for keeping employees and students comfortable and healthy. When the air inside a building is unhealthy, people can suffer from health problems, such as throat irritations, headaches and fatigue. That’s why it’s a good idea to add an economizer to a building’s HVAC system. Here are four basic benefits of an HVAC economizer, along with some considerations and warnings.
Maybe you’ve heard about economizers but aren’t quite sure what they are. An economizer is a mechanical device or heat exchanger that’s designed to reduce energy consumption. As part of an outdoor HVAC system, an economizer usually mounts on the roof of commercial buildings and schools.
Put simply, economizers work by drawing in outdoor air. When outdoor air levels are favorable, an economizer uses the outside air for cooling a building. In other words, an economizer is able to detect the correct level of air to usher inside a building.
The internal dampers on an economizer open after the outdoor air temperature drops below the air temperature that’s inside the building. These dampers do more than just control how much air is pulled into a building. They also recirculate and exhaust air out of the building. Besides dampers, an HVAC economizer is made up of other components, including sensors, controls, linkages and actuations. These parts all work together in recirculating and exhausting air from a building.
There are several advantages for adding an economizer. Probably the biggest benefit of having an economizer is that it improves the quality of indoor air by increasing ventilation. Consider how older schools and other buildings, in addition to some newer ones, fail to prioritize ventilation in their construction. By drawing in fresh air and expelling stale air out of a building, an economizer can make a huge difference in air quality.
Another significant perk of an economizer is that it reduces the workload on your HVAC system. As a result, this device can extend the lifespan of your HVAC unit. Furthermore, as a result of less wear and tear on your HVAC unit, there’s less upkeep. Because of less maintenance and breakdowns, your HVAC system can last longer.
Sometimes, HVAC equipment already contains an economizer built into it. But if your HVAC unit doesn’t have an economizer, an HVAC specialist can easily add one. Fortunately, it’s simple to install an economizer, and it doesn’t involve much space since these devices aren’t that large as they’re moderately sized. Also, adding an economizer doesn’t entail a lot of mechanical or structural work.
Is your building’s energy bill is out of control, especially during hot summer months? If so, you can reduce what you spend on energy costs by installing an economizer. Consider how an economizer can provide free cooling for your building by pulling in outdoor air. By drawing cool outside air into your building, there’s less mechanical refrigeration. In fact, using an economizer can save you as much as 24 to 35 percent on your energy bill.
If your school or commercial building doesn’t have an economizer, you may be paying a significant amount of money for energy costs. Regardless of your energy needs, our energy professionals can help. Contact us to find out more about our wide range of services.
Energy efficiency has become the big buzzword in connection with fighting climate change. And the larger your scale of energy use is, the bigger an impact you can have by making changes. While some changes are bigger than others (and some will require more of a long-term investment versus short-term upgrades), it’s important to consider all the options. Because cutting energy use means saving money on your monthly bills; it also improves your image, and helps you take your position as a community leader on an issue affecting everyone.
It’s basic energy efficiency policy to ensure that lights are turned off when no one is in the room; most offices, classrooms, etc. will have multiple banks of lights so you can only turn on a few of them to provide lighting for after hours cleaning, pre-workday setup, things like that. However, it’s important to go a step further when you can. Ask what changes you can make to your lighting system to improve energy use, and save money simultaneously.
For example, even if you’re only using them when you really need them, incandescent light bulbs are one of the most inefficient types of lighting on the market today. By replacing these bulbs with LED lights, you immediately cut your lighting energy demand by 90 percent according to Energy Star. The bigger your operation is, and the more lights you use, the bigger a change this is going to make. Don’t forget that LED lights can last for several years once you screw them in; that’s going to have a noticeable effect on your monthly operating budget.
Some of your biggest energy expenses are going to come from your heating and cooling system. They are a necessity for providing a comfortable environment; but there are things you can do to ease the burden they place on the power grid.
One small thing you can do include acquiring automated thermostats. These ensure you’re holding steady temperatures without any fiddling with the controls. Additionally, ensuring that vents are closed and doors are shut in areas of the building that aren’t being used helps minimize the draw on your system, and cut down on the energy you’re using. Proper cleaning and maintenance will also help ensure minimal issues, and wasted energy as SRP points out.
If you have the budget for larger changes, then installing updated, Energy Star grade appliances can make a big difference. Everything from furnaces to kitchen appliances can be streamlined and made to do more with less in terms of energy. And for those who want to start making the transition away from fossil fuels, then moving from gas-based to electricity-based appliances is a step in the right direction.
Another big draw on energy for any business or school is going to be the equipment used in the office. These tools are necessary to keep daily operations going; but it’s important to step back and ask what you’re using, and how you’re using it.
For instance, are computers set to go into energy efficient power saving mode once idle? Or do they simply run at full-functionality until someone turns them off? Do you have sleek laptops that can be used in the field as well as at a desk? Or do you have old, outdated desktops that use several times the energy of a more recent model? Do you have dozens of printers and copiers in service? You could, instead, create centralized hubs to use less energy.
While buying newer, more energy efficient tools is always a good option, sometimes you can save energy through establishing new policies as well. For example, attempting to go paperless may create more digital documents, but it will also reduce the need for copiers, toner, paper, ink, etc. Even if it’s something as small as posting the lunch menu on the school’s website, or circulating memos digitally, lots of little changes can have a big impact.
For more information on how you can cut your energy costs, simply contact us today!
Lighting is a critical aspect of any building, facility, or establishment. In today’s market, there are many lighting options to choose from, ranging from traditional incandescent bulbs, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogens, to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Over time, LEDs have become the most preferred lighting options in schools, libraries, and government buildings and for the right reasons. Not only do they save money, time, and energy, but they also conserve the environment. Here are seven reasons why you should consider making the switch to LEDs:
LEDs consume far much less energy than other lighting technologies like halogens and fluorescents. They lose far less of their energy to heat, with the rest converted to light. Because of their minimal energy consumption, LEDs emit less heat, making them a perfect choice in buildings that heat up. Less heat production means less demand for conditioning and cooling systems.
LED bulbs have a superior operational life compared to other forms of lighting. The average LED lasts over 50,000 hours, which is up to 25 times longer than incandescent and halogen bulbs, and up to 3 times longer than CFLs. Some LEDs can even last up to 200,000 hours. Additionally, LEDs do not contain glass bulbs or filaments, and this adds to their durability.
There are several ways in which LEDs help the environment. The first is that unlike CFLs and fluorescents, LEDs do not contain highly toxic mercury. And this helps to reduce the toxic waste generated during disposal of these lighting technologies. LEDs also last a very long time, which translates to less waste in the form of packaging, transportation, and disposal. The other way in which LEDs are environmentally friendly is through direct energy conservation. Since they use less energy, it means energy demand and use goes down, therefore minimizing the carbon footprint.
For many years, LEDs had been on the higher end of the price range spectrum, but not anymore. As the years go by, LEDs continue to make significant gains on the cost of traditional bulbs, making them affordable to most consumers. Additionally, once you switch to LEDs, you will experience a substantial decrease in your energy bills, and this will translate to direct energy cost savings.
Not only do LEDs lower your energy consumption, but they also reduce your maintenance costs. Unlike traditional lighting sources that suddenly fail, LEDs don’t abruptly stop functioning. Besides, they don’t require significant maintenance. This feature, in addition to the long life span of LEDs, saves you time and money you would typically spend on servicing and repairs.
LEDs are designed to have the same light quality throughout their lifespan. An LED that is rated 50,000 hours will not go out after that time expires. But will subsequently begin to lose its brightness until you can’t use it anymore. The microchip technology that LEDs use instead of a heated filament is what allows the bulbs to maintain light quality. You can be confident that your lights will not suddenly start to flicker over time.
Traditional bulbs are known to produce a nice warm light. With LEDs, on the other hand, you can achieve any ambiance on the hue temperature charts. What’s more, LEDs are also semiconductor devices—which means you can control them using dimmer switches. Subsequently, the dimmer switches allow you to dim your facility lighting fixtures to up to 10% of their optimum output, helping you create a much softer light.
Ultimately, switching your facility’s lighting system to LED will be a decision you will not regret. You will see a direct impact on the functionality of the lighting system and the electricity bills. To know what steps you require to make the switch, you may need an energy audit of your school or facility. Contact Energy Optimizers for energy audits, recommendations, and implementation of energy-saving techniques that will save you tens or hundreds of dollars in electricity bills.