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October 7, 2014, by Jim Messner

Innovative, Energy Efficient Systems Are A Smart Investment

How does a new school campus earn the largest energy rebate in the history of a major public utility? By adopting an integrated design approach along with an up-front commitment to invest in advanced energy-efficient systems that would pay off in the long term.

When SHP was charged with designing a combined Coy Middle School/Trebein Elementary campus for the Beavercreek School District that would offer substantial energy savings, we undertook extensive energy modeling that carefully analyzed every aspect of lighting, heating and cooling and how they interrelated. By doing so, every design decision was made with full knowledge of how it would ultimately affect the entire facility’s energy efficiency performance.

Featured recently in School Planning & Management magazine as a model of design for sustainability, the Coy/Trebein campus project featured several cutting-edge, high efficiency systems including:

  • A geothermal HVAC system is expected to consume up to 30% less energy than a conventional system by using the earth as a source of heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. As our colleague Kyle Hughes explained in a recent blog post about geothermal HVAC systems, a geothermal system’s initial cost usually is higher than traditional systems. But its longer lifespan—typically 50+ years—as well as lower maintenance costs and substantial energy savings, offer realistic expectations that the initial extra investment will be recaptured on the back end. The Beavercreek geothermal system’s payback for its additional costs (over a traditional HVAC system) is projected to be less than 10 years.
  • Occupancy sensors and daylighting controls detect whether a space is being used and turns lights on or off automatically to minimize energy output 24/7. The campus design also includes aggressive daylight harvesting that allows daylight to penetrate deep into classrooms, sloped ceilings to maximize natural light reflection and retention and solar tubes that transport natural light from roof skylights into interior spaces. Together, these innovative designs significantly reduce artificial light, electrical and cooling demands.

An independent energy audit of the new campus revealed that the district will realize $150,000 in electricity savings annually, earning a record $492,000 energy rebate from Dayton Power & Light (DP&L).  Moreover, the high efficiency campus fulfills the public school district’s mission to be a careful steward of taxpayer funds.