Tuesday, October 16, 2012
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Free energy audit to help Glenvar Elementary School cut costs

An audit team praised Glenvar Elementary School's conservation efforts already in place.

Stephen Knox, with Roanoke Cement Co., uses a light meter to record foot-candles of light inside a classroom at Glenvar Elementary School during an energy audit at the school Monday. The audit was free to the school because of its involvement in the Green Schools Challenge.

Photos by Kyle Green | The Roanoke Times

Stephen Knox, with Roanoke Cement Co., uses a light meter to record foot-candles of light inside a classroom at Glenvar Elementary School during an energy audit at the school Monday. The audit was free to the school because of its involvement in the Green Schools Challenge.

Steve Sunderman, architect and president of Terrazia, said the audits will provide suggestions that could cut energy cost for schools.

Steve Sunderman, architect and president of Terrazia, said the audits will provide suggestions that could cut energy cost for schools.

Ten-year-old Jamie Burton said she thinks a million dollars is a lot of money. The Glenvar Elementary School fifth-grader guessed that's how much Roanoke County schools spends annually on electricity, gas and water.

Director of Operations Marty Misicko said the school division actually spends closer to $2 million per year on utilities.

"If you can save just a little bit ... 10 percent even, that would be $200,000," Steve Sunderman, a Roanoke architect, told a small group of Glenvar students Monday morning.

Electrical engineer Stephen Knox and mechanical engineer Raymond Slaughter, both from Roanoke Cement Co., joined Sunderman to conduct an energy audit of the school. Glenvar is one of four public schools in Southwest Virginia receiving free audits through the U.S. Green Building Council Green Schools Challenges.

"The idea is to look at the schools and give suggestions," Sunderman said.

The audit team met with students to discuss energy conservation before taking a tour of the facility and examining its operating systems. The trio praised several conservation measures already in place from a previously enacted energy performance contract, including:

-- Heating and cooling system controls that can be regulated from a central office computer.

-- Replacing light bulbs and ballasts with more efficient products.

-- Installing water restrictive faucet valves to reduce the flow rate.

-- Equipping soda machines with vending misers, which are motion sensors used to kick the machines into conservation mode.

"If no one uses the machine from 4 p.m., it [the vending miser] cuts down on the energy used. Not to let the sodas get warm but so the compressor doesn't kick on," Misicko said.

According to Tufts University's Office of Sustainability website, a vending miser in a pilot program there saved 33 kilowatt-hours in a week -- about half as many as a machine without a vending miser used in a week. A quick Web search indicates the devices sell for $130 to $200 each.

"As far as what they're already doing, a lot of what they're doing is fantastic," Knox said during the audit.

He pointed to a couple of doors where daylight could be seen in the gap between the door and the floor. Knox said one recommendation he planned to make is the installation or replacement of weather stripping around exterior doors.

"That's a real inexpensive thing," Knox said.

Slaughter was impressed with the condition of the pipe insulation in the boiler room.

"This is dry, not wet. And well-wrapped," he said. "It is very easy to get wet, and people just let it go."

Slaughter said he may recommend the school install timers on the drinking fountains to keep the units' small air compressors from running all night when the school is unoccupied. While the recommendation may come with an upfront cost, there is a potential for long-term savings, he said.

The audit team will compile its findings and make recommendations to the student team.

"We would like you to find a way to share it with the rest of the school and the school board," Sunderman told the students Monday.

Glenvar Elementary was built in 1959 and there were additions in the 1960s and 1970s, according to Principal Danny Guard.

Online: usgbcswva.org

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