Frisco ISD Launches Website to Promote Energy Conservation

Aug 27, 2016

Frisco Building Dashboard WebsiteEnergy Usage at Anderson ElementaryDrilling for Geothermal Conversion at Spears Elementary

Frisco ISD students, staff and the public at large now have a way to track energy, water and gas usage in FISD schools, as the District strives to further reduce costs, conserve natural resources and protect the environment.

The new website allows visitors to view detailed data regarding electricity, water and natural gas consumption, as well as campus recycling efforts.

The website will enhance transparency, promote green practices among students and staff and allow the District to host competitions between schools to help drive cost savings.

The addition of this resource was outlined as an action step in the District’s strategic plan, which was developed by educators, parents, students and community members in spring 2015.

“We see the building dashboard as an educational tool,” said George Radtke, FISD director of energy management. “It will help us remind staff about ways that they can help keep utility bills low. Teachers can use it in the classroom to educate students about carbon emissions and the impact of their school on the environment. There are many possibilities and we are still exploring ways to leverage this new tool to enhance current practices.”

The online dashboard is just the latest step in Frisco ISD’s ongoing efforts to enhance energy efficiency and make schools cheaper to operate on a day-to-day basis.

Cost-effective schools begin with building design and smart construction practices, but upgrades are made in FISD as systems wear out and retrofits show they will save the District money over time.

For example, the District has utilized geothermal heat pump systems and energy recovery ventilation in all facilities opening after 2003.

Geothermal systems, which heat and cool utilizing the earth’s natural resources, use less energy and are cheaper to maintain than traditional, four-pipe central plant HVAC systems.

In addition, a new type of concrete wall has been used in schools starting with campuses that opened in 2014, including Independence High School, Newman Elementary and Scott Elementary, as well as 11 additional schools that have opened since that time or are currently under construction.

This wall system, known as insulated concrete form (ICF), increases energy efficiency by limiting the transfer of heat and cold from outside the building.

“ICF significantly reduces infiltration and exfiltration through exterior walls, allowing temperatures within conditioned spaces inside to remain more stable despite temperature swings outside, such regular changes between day and night,” said Cecil Cypert, FISD director of construction services. “It also has safety and noise benefits and fully complies with the International Energy Conservation Codes as well.”

The first seven months of this year, the District’s newest schools used 40-65 percent less energy per square foot than some of the District’s older, non-geothermal and non-ICF schools, built as recently as 1999, 2000 and 2003. View 2016 energy usage by campus.

The District has also significantly cut electricity bills and qualified for nearly $500,000 in energy rebates since 2008 by converting old lighting systems to newer standards.

In 2015, the metal halide exterior light fixtures at Liberty High School were retrofitted with energy-efficient LED fixtures that will result in a 60 percent reduction in exterior lighting charges for a total of more than $31,000 per year. 

The metal halide gym fixtures in 22 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high school indoor athletic facilities were replaced in 2015 and 2016 with energy-efficient LED light fixtures. The retrofit will result in much better lighting for students and more than $164,000 in savings per year. 

The District plans more lighting retrofits this fall at five high schools and the FISD Natatorium, which will also provide better lighting and reduce electrical costs.

Frisco ISD utilizes a number of other strategies to ensure facilities run as efficiently as possible, from maximizing natural light and installing occupancy sensors during building design and construction, to abiding by energy conservation guidelines and utilizing a centralized control system for heating, cooling, lighting and irrigation systems, among many more. 

The latest average ENERGY STAR score for Frisco ISD buildings was 93 on a scale from 1-100. The program, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, compares a property’s energy performance to similar properties nationwide.

Energy-efficient designs of McSpedden Elementary, Early Childhood School and Sam Carter Service Center yielded another $42,000 to FISD in rebates in recent years.

The Student Opportunity Center, FISD’s oldest school building, was named number one in energy reduction for an adult education/training building in the EPA’s 2015 ENERGY STAR national “Battle of the Buildings: Team Challenge!”

The SOC achieved approximately 18 percent in energy savings, about $9,000 in estimated cost savings and prevented almost 70 megatons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from polluting the air.

“There is always room for improvement,” Radtke said. “Even though many buildings are new, others are aging, and we’re always looking for new ways to reduce costs and save taxpayer dollars where feasible.”

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