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NJ School Deemed ‘Biggest Loser’

Thursday, May 2, 2013

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An 81-year-old elementary school in New Jersey has won a nationwide competition aimed at shrinking the energy footprints of U.S. commercial building stock.

Demarest Elementary School in Bloomfield, NJ, won the 2012 EPA Energy Star Battle of the Buildings competition by chopping some 52 percent off its energy usage, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, EPA said.

Participants in the 2012 competition saved a combined total of more than three billion kBTUs (a thousand British thermal units) of energy and $50 million in utility costs. The buildings also reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 43,000 homes, EPA said.

Demarest Elementary
Scott Collins, Bloomfield School District / EPA

Demarest Elementary School slashed 52 percent of its energy usage to win the 2012 EPA Energy Star Battle of the Buildings. The school was up against 3,000 other buildings across the nation.

In EPA’s wrap-up report, the agency highlights several energy-efficient technologies used by the top performers, including building-envelope technologies, lighting upgrades and solar panel installations.

Elementary School Efforts

Demarest was up against more than 3,000 other commercial, governmental and institutional buildings in the contest's third year.

The school's winning strategy involved a series of "simple steps to significantly reduce energy use," EPA said.

Battle of the Buildings

Competitors used a variety of energy-efficient upgrades, including building-envelope technologies, lighting upgrades, and solar panels.

They included:

  • Identifying and addressing a number of mechanical issues that had been overlooked for many years, including replacing a timer associated with the heating system, which allowed it to run on a more energy-efficient schedule;
  • Aggressively adjusting the boiler operation, based on outside temperatures and weather changes, and adjusting the hall lighting schedule to dim in the early morning and after dismissal; and
  • Staff members taking control of energy management in their immediate areas by turning off and unplugging electronic devices, including vending machines, when they were not needed.

Overall, the school saved nearly 4.6 million kBTUs of energy last year and almost $76,000.

“School districts and, in fact, facilities of any kind should look to Bloomfield [School District] as a model of what they can achieve,” the EPA said in the competition wrap-up.

Hemphill WTP

Atlanta's Hemphill Water Treatment Plant, a Top 10 finisher in the competition, cut its energy use by more than 40 percent in one year.

Other Top Finishers

The top overall finishers and their percent-based reductions in energy use were:

  • U.S. Army Ft. Hood Warrior Way Express Store (Ft. Hood, TX), 48.5 percent;
  • Toms River Verizon Wireless store (Toms River, NJ), 43.1 percent;
  • Shamrock Springs Elementary School (Westfield, IN), 42.1 percent;
  • Hemphill Water Treatment Plant (Atlanta), 40.6 percent;
  • Kmart (Gillette, WY), 40.2 percent;
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Courthouse (Newark, NJ), 36.8 percent;
  • Craigmont High School (Memphis, TN), 34.6 percent;
  • San Antonio Federal Building (San Antonio), 34.4 percent;
  • Bloomfield Middle School (Bloomfield, NJ), 34.3 percent;
  • North Carolina Area Health Education Center Building (Chapel Hill, NC), 34.3 percent;
  • Walsh & Associates Inc. (St. Louis), 34.0 percent;
  • Kmart (Norridge, IL), 33.4 percent;
  • Customer Care and Aftersales (Ypsilanti, MI), 31.0 percent; and
  • Kmart (Mt. Vernon, OH), 30.8 percent.

The Competition

The 2012 Energy Star National Building Competition measured energy performance over the entire 2012 calendar year.

Competitors tracked their building's monthly energy consumption using the EPA's online energy tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

The energy reductions for each top finisher were verified by an independently licensed professional engineer or registered architect at the conclusion of the competition, the agency noted.


Tagged categories: Building envelope; Building Envelope; Building owners; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Energy Star; EPA

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