Richmond School District exceeds energy savings goals, cuts costs

The Richmond School District saved a bundle of cash this past school year through a number of energy-saving projects that targeted electricity and natural gas use: $146,515.

By paying attention to the little things, such as turning out the lights when leaving a room, to eliminating graveyard custodial shifts so temperatures are dialed back at night, to upgrading boiler systems at elementary schools, the energy savings were significant.

Though the amount of electrical equipment in the district increased, actual electricity consumption dropped 4.3 per cent, exceeding the district's goal of three per cent.

Natural gas use dropped 7.2 per cent, saving the district more than $80,000 alone.

To achieve these savings, a number of projects were undertaken:

• hot water heating system upgraded at Burnett

• cleaning of heating coils to allow for more efficient heating and air flow at Burnett, McNair and McRoberts

• upgrading lighting systems at Blair, Grauer, Blundell and Errington Learning Centre

• connecting corridor lighting to building security system at nine schools, so when building isn't occupied and security system is on, lighting is automatically turned off

For the upcoming school year, a number of other energy-saving measures have been selected:

• connecting lighting to security systems at other schools

• upgrading building automation at multiple sites

• upgrading lighting and controls at DeBeck and General Currie

• upgrading heating systems at five sites

The district is also looking at implementing a more structured rewards and recognition program to acknowledge site-based contributions to energy conservation.

Last year, the district reduced carbon emissions from buildings by 10.5 per cent, primarily as a result of energy savings.

But reductions were also achieved by purchasing five electric vehicles, which helped the district's fleet of vehicles achieve a 1.7 per cent reduction, or about nine tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Paper-consumption related greenhouse gas emissions were also reduced by 2.9 per cent last year, which followed a 32.6 per cent reduction in 2012.

For the district to become carbon neutral, it was required to purchase $167,055 worth of carbon offsets, at $25 per tonne, from the Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation of B.C. That number was some $17,500 less than the previous year.

Thanks to the Carbon Neutral Capital Program, established by the province to reduce carbon emissions, the Richmond School District has been awarded $149,950 to replace the boilers at Tomsett and Garden City elementaries, $500,000 to replace the rooftop natural gas heating units at Palmer Secondary with heat pumps, and $345,000 to replace the boilers at Burnett secondary, a project that will be completed this summer.

Over the past six years, the district has managed energy savings of $1,163,400. For its efforts, the district has received more than $500,000 in incentives for energy-efficiency projects and $897,839 in government grants for efficiency projects.

"The demonstrated past success of energy conservation initiatives along with rising energy costs and significant environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions compels us to ensure that we continue to effectively manage energy and emissions in the Richmond School District," wrote Tracy Blagdon, manager of energy and sustainability for the Richmond School District.


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