The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

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Eco Team Energy Audit Reveals Room for Improvement

On January 11, 2023, our school underwent an environmental audit conducted by the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools Program. This initiative is supported by the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility and led by Green Building United Practical Energy Solutions. The comprehensive audit looked at various energy-consuming systems within our school, including HVAC, plumbing, lighting, internal loads, and more. The primary aim of this audit was to collect data on our school’s energy consumption and identify opportunities for enhancing energy efficiency and promoting sustainability within our community.

During the period spanning from January 2019 to November 2022, an examination revealed that the total energy expenses amounted to approximately $204,000. Surprisingly, although electricity constituted only 40% of the overall energy consumption, it accounted for approximately 55% of the total energy costs. On the other hand, natural gas represented 45% of the expenses but contributed to 60% of the energy consumed. Notably, the utilization of natural gas exhibited a predictable monthly pattern, except for an unexpectedly high level during the summer months. This is unusual since schools typically have limited requirements for water heating during the summer. Therefore, it is advisable to investigate this unusually heightened summer usage, as it may be linked to the substantial concentration of energy consumption. The majority of the school employs hot water boilers, air-cooled chillers, and fan-coil units. Two high-efficiency gas-fired storage water heaters are responsible for providing hot water, including a large storage tank that is presently inactive.

During the summer season, electricity demand reaches its peak due to the consistent use of air conditioning. However, from mid-2020 to mid-2021, electricity usage was notably lower due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, only 11% of the school’s total electrical consumption is currently derived from solar photovoltaic systems. By implementing ground-mounted arrays positioned north of the school, each array has the potential to generate 40% of the school’s electricity after the implementation of Energy Conservation Measures (ECM). Notably, the annual energy consumption at our school has resulted in the production of approximately 926 metric tons of CO2 emissions. To put this into perspective, it is equivalent to the annual emissions generated by approximately 206 passenger cars. According to the utility data, our school has an ENERGY STAR score of 39, indicating that it operates more efficiently than 39% of similar schools nationwide. This is a respectable score, however, to qualify for certification that officially recognizes our school’s superior energy performance, we need to attain a score of at least 75.

Currently, our school utilizes LED lighting for 80% of its interior lighting needs, with the remaining 20% being linear fluorescent lights. Transitioning to a fully LED setup throughout the school is a fairly simple and cost effective way to improve our overall susutaiability. Presently, the majority of our interior lighting is manually controlled through switches, which poses the risk of lights being left on in unoccupied classrooms throughout the day and even at night. Implementing automatic timed lighting controls would be the most effective way to limit the amount of excess electricity being used by the school. By transitioning to automatic lighting controls, we can anticipate a reduction in lighting energy consumption by an estimated 20-30%.

In conclusion, we have a long way to go in terms of making our school as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible, but we are making progress. Some ways we can improve our automatic lighting controls, converting all light to LED, HVAC temperature scheduling, turning off unused equipment, expanding geothermal to the whole school, and joining a renewable energy purchasing program. Implementing one or preferably all of these initiatives would significantly enhance the school’s sustainability and reduce the amount of waste we contribute to our already polluted environment.

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About the Contributor
Tauson Biggs, Photographer
Tauson Biggs is a photographer for the Whittier Miscellany and is currently in his third year of being part of the newspaper. Tauson has always been interested in journalism and decided to join the Whittier after a friend recommended it. Tauson generally writes news and feature articles for the newspaper but will write about anything he thinks is compelling. He enjoys the writing and interviewing aspect of the Whittier the most. Tauson's extracurricular activities include singing, swimming, tennis, and robotics.

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