Fort LeBoeuf School District Focuses on Energy Efficiency! Robison Elementary School Achieves Energy Star Rating of 99!

ERIE, PA - April 3, 2014 - The Fort LeBoeuf School District in northwest Pennsylvania recently completed the second phase of a facility enhancement program which resulted in the district’s Robison Elementary School achieving an Energy Star rating of 99.  The federal Energy Star program is administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency and provides a standardized method of benchmarking similar buildings.  The rating represents a percentile score which means in the case of Robison Elementary, its energy performance exceeds 99 percent of the energy performance of similar school buildings in the EPA data base.  This rating represents a substantial improvement in the building’s previous performance rating of 84.

The Fort LeBoeuf School District, which is located in Waterford, PA, in Erie County, just south of Erie, PA has a total enrollment of 2,100 students from a geographical area encompassing 112 square miles.  The district’s five school buildings (high school, middle school, three elementary schools) and one maintenance facility total 445,000 square feet with the instructional area totaling approximately 278,000 square feet and non-instructional area totaling approximately 167,000 square feet. The Robison Elementary School has a total enrollment of 412 students and the building totals approximately 66,000, of which 43,000 square feet is instructional area and 23,000 square feet is non-instructional area.

The district recently completed a multiple phase facility enhancement program that was developed and implemented by Building Controls & Services, Inc., dba SmartEdge, a certified Energy Services Company (ESCO) in Pennsylvania.  The program was developed in response to the district’s high utility costs straining an already tight budget and infrastructure problems in all of the district’s buildings that needed immediate attention.  The first phase of the program focused on four of the district’s schools and the second phase focused on a major renovation of one of the district’s elementary schools – Robison Elementary. 

The first phase of the facility enhancement plan developed by SmartEdge included a number of energy conservation measures (ECMs).  In the first phase, implemented at a cost of $1.3 million, SmartEdge focused on four of the district’s school buildings and included upgrades to interior and exterior lighting, installation of new HVAC system controls, optimization of boiler plant operations, retro-commissioning of major HVAC equipment, rebalancing of air flows, and installation of a new high efficiency chiller.  This phase of the plan was completed in December, 2012. 

For the first phase of the facility enhancement program, SmartEdge is guaranteeing that the district will reduce its annual utility costs by approximately $100,000.  As a result of the first phase work completed to date, the energy savings have been very significant.  Specifically, annual electrical consumption has been reduced by over 965,000 KWH or approximately 30% and annual gas consumption has been reduced by over 37,000 CCF or approximately 24%.  Based on current energy unit costs, actual cost savings associated with the reduction in electrical consumption total $80,000 and cost savings associated with the reduction in gas consumption total $30,000. Operations and maintenance cost savings were estimated to be an additional $19,000 on an annual basis.

The schools addressed in the first phase of the program also realized significant improvements in their Energy Star ratings as well.  The high school improved to 72 from 21, the middle school to 84 from 54, one elementary school to 81 from 36 and the other elementary school to 84 from 12.

The second phase of the plan focused strictly on the Robison Elementary facility and aimed not only at improving energy efficiency but also upgrading life safety and security systems. The implemented measures included upgrades to interior and exterior lighting, installation of a new HVAC system and associated direct digital controls, installation of new windows, upgrades to fire and security systems, and installation of a new district-wide telephone system.  The $3.3 million program of facility enhancements was completed in August of last year after just 10 weeks of construction.

While not strictly an energy efficiency upgrade, the second phase work at Robison Elementary will generate additional energy savings of 166,000 KWH of electricity and almost 8,000 CCF of natural gas.  Based on current energy unit costs, actual cost savings associated with the reduction in electrical consumption total approximately $15,000 and cost savings associated with the reduction in gas consumption total $7,000.  Operations and maintenance cost savings were estimated to be an additional $12,000 on an annual basis.

In addition to the reduction in energy costs, the district also received over $25,000 in Act 129 utility rebates.  The rebates were received for lighting upgrades, new motors, and variable frequency speed drives.

SmartEdge’s energy efficiency focus offers many long-term benefits for school districts including improved facility efficiency and occupant comfort, reduced operational costs, and positive environmental impacts associated with reduced carbon footprints.