Bethel-Tate School District Saves with Energy Improvements

BETHEL, Ohio — Only a year after completing energy-conservation projects, Bethel-Tate School District is seeing more cost and energy savings than expected. Bethel-Tate partnered with Monroe, Ohio-based Four Seasons Environmental Inc. to analyze existing utility bills, conduct an energy audit, recommend energy-conservation measures and pricing, and complete the construction of the projects.

The key to the energy-conservation projects is the new automated logics system, reported The system controls all HVAC and lighting throughout the district from anywhere. The new occupancy sensors for the lighting systems also helped save energy. Because the sensors were interfaced with direct digital control (DDC), they can put classrooms that are not in use in an “unoccupied” heating or cooling mode in addition to controlling lighting when classrooms and halls are unoccupied.

All classroom lights were upgraded to include more-efficient fluorescent bulbs and a ballast lighting system. At each school, electrical-system meters were integrated into the DDC control system to help manage the amount of electrical energy being used, reported During the summer, for instance, each building will operate according to a summer-time control strategy to help save energy. Additionally, boiler rooms controlling heating and hot water systems now include three-way control valves to help the hot water boilers operate as efficiently as possible with the new DDC control system.

The energy improvements were predicted to save the district approximately $109,000 annually, but the actual energy savings for fiscal year 2016 was $166,000, Burns told As such, the district believes it may be able to repay the bonds used to fund the energy-conservation projects in about half the predicted time. Instead of taking almost 15 years, bond repayment would only take about eight years.

The Bethel-Tate School District was able to complete the energy-conservation projects because of its participation in the Energy Conservation Program offered through House Bill 264, which the school district’s board of education approved in January 2014, reported The program gives Ohio school districts the option to borrow funds at a low interest rate without having to pass a ballot issue for the authority to borrow. As a result, roughly 500 Ohio school districts have been able to save millions in utility bills and operating costs, without added taxpayer expenses.