Energy Efficiency | December 19, 2019

Sustainability Strategies for Independent Schools

Adam Farragher sits on both our project management and business development teams, allowing him a unique perspective on the 360 process of designing and building efficiency projects. For our recently announced work with independent school, Thayer Academy, Adam examines what made this campus a contender for energy efficiency solutions and how other independent institutions can think about incorporating LED lighting into their own sustainability strategies.

How independent schools can approach energy efficiency

What did you look for on campus to identify savings opportunities?

Walking through the over one-hundred-year-old private school campus, I could see some outdated lighting, which is normal for many school campuses and I could see the opportunity for LED lighting. Because lighting technology has changed immensely in terms of its efficiencies over the last twenty years, I felt we could bring a lot of savings to Thayer by designing a lighting upgrade.

While there are many tactics independent schools can take to improve energy use and sustainability on campus, LED lighting is often one of the most accessible and impactful options.

How did you decide to do the buildings you did in this project?

We focused on the upper campus (high school) based on direction from the facilities department. For this campus, the school was interested in a complete review of all of the buildings at once, which qualified this project for significant utility incentives to help cover the cost.

Why are old schools or campus buildings, whether secondary or higher education, good candidates for energy efficiency retrofits?

Operating expenses on old campuses are typically quite high. Buildings built 50, 75, 100+ years ago were not necessarily designed with efficient heating systems, efficient windows, or with attention to energy use. Unfortunately, energy efficiency projects in older schools are often neglected in favor of more pressing facility management.

That means though, that if a school’s lighting has not been addressed in the last 5 or more years, they are likely a great candidate for an LED project.

To what extent was Thayer’s operations team already interested in improving energy efficiency?

Thayer’s operations team was already quite interested in improving their energy usage. They have looked into lighting, solar and mechanical projects with a focus on reducing their energy bills and impact on the environment.

The support of the team made our job easy to execute, and it was great to design and build the project alongside an operations team actively exploring additional sustainability initiatives as well.

What was a highlight of this project?

A highlight of this project was watching the transition across the campus from the old to new lighting. It’s always interesting to consider how we achieve higher light levels and improved light output while using significantly less energy.

The end results of efficiency projects are a win-win.

How similar is this project to what other independent schools may want to implement?

The project at Thayer is a good representation of the opportunity that schools have to save on energy, particularly through a LED lighting retrofit. Schools can take advantage of incentive programs, sponsored by the utility, to buy down the cost of energy savings projects. In my opinion, the best part of the process is that Mantis Innovation does all of the leg work at no cost to the customer.

Even if a school does not move forward with the project, they can gain a wealth of information regarding energy saving potential that they can use to develop a plan for the school’s future through a complimentary energy assessment.

Benefits of LED lighting for private schools

  1. Lower energy use

  2. Lower cost to operate

  3. Lower maintenance

  4. Better lighting output

  5. Improved aesthetics

  6. More sustainable operations

The list of benefits of LED lighting, as part of independent school sustainability strategy, is a long one.