Camas School District Drives Continuous Energy Savings by Creating Resource Conservation Management Policy

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by
Sapna Gheewala, U.S. Department of Energy, ORISE Fellow
on
Jul 25, 2016

Camas School District implemented a centralized natural resource policy to promote the value of sustainability, prioritize reduction goals, and establish a framework for school staff to measure building energy efficiency improvements. The Camas School District united school officials, faculty, students, and the broader community by enacting the Resource Conservation Management Policy as a district-wide commitment to sustainability.

How did the district do it?

The Operations Department conducted facility audits of all school district buildings and identified a lack of standardized protocols for system HVAC set points, setback schedules for indoor and outdoor lighting, plug load settings, and tracking and management of resource consumption. The program was kicked off at each of the 10 area schools with the development of green teams, enabling the school administrations to take ownership over the data benchmarking portion of the policy, as well as train onsite staff and students. This encouraged active participation of staff, students, and parents, across the district.

With the district’s policy put in place by the Director of Operations and District Energy Manager, school officials could take advantage of available funding opportunities from local utility rebates, community programs, and state office grants to support the energy efficiency initiatives. Once the benchmarking effort was complete, the Operations Department identified “low-hanging fruit” that provided high monetary savings and relatively low payback period, including direct digital controls, variable frequency drives, and interior and parking LED lights. These low and zero cost measures enabled the district to begin to save money and secure funds for larger projects with higher upfront costs and longer payback periods.

The district through its upgrades and policy, became the first K-12 school district in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to meet and surpass its portfolio wide energy reduction commitment. To date, Camas has achieved an energy reduction of 33% against a 2009 baseline, in addition to other natural resource savings. HVAC, lighting and boiler replacements and upgrades alone allowed Camas to realize over $115,000 in annual energy cost savings. 

Additionally, Camas serves as a model for other school districts by earning the ENERGY STAR building certification at all 10 of its district’s schools, serving a population of over 6,800 students. Seven of 10 schools earned Washington Green Schools’ certification by forming student-lead green teams to oversee additional conservation measures. The district is also collaborating with the local Educational Service District 112 on a pilot project to develop a science classroom toolkit that integrates school sustainability efforts into student class curriculums.

Learn more about this effort here.