San Francisco USD Renovates First Elementary School to meet Carbon Neutral Schools Resolution

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 01, 2020

In 2017, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) passed the Carbon Neutral Schools Resolution, committing to eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. To achieve this goal, the district is improving energy efficiency at existing schools and selected Charles Drew Elementary as the first of the District’s 120 schools to be renovated with an expected completion date of July 2020.

As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, SFUSD has committed to reducing its energy intensity by 20% across nine million square feet of facilities by 2028 from a 2018 baseline. With an expected 63% energy savings and 34% cost savings annually at Charles Drew Elementary, this project demonstrates SFUSD’s progress toward this goal.

The renovation of Charles Drew Elementary School is focused on efficiency and occupant comfort. Modernization efforts included upgrading to LED lighting, installing a new roof with R30 insulation, and replacing natural gas-fired boilers with an electric variable refrigerant flow system. The school will be powered exclusively by renewable hydroelectric energy from the Hetch Hetchy water system, helping the district reach its goal of reducing the use of natural gas to heat district buildings by 50% by 2030. Utility costs for the school are expected to decrease significantly, and a potential future solar project would add to these savings.

The school’s efficiency upgrades go beyond energy savings. Individually-controlled space conditioning and lighting upgrades will increase the comfort of teachers and students while allowing spaces to be heated and cooled only as needed.