SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX/IRN) What can schools do to improve their energy efficiency?
Almost all of them turn off lights and computers when they’re not in use, and have a no-idling policy for vehicles, according to a survey of 259 Illinois school districts by the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. These are significant energy savers and easy to do, says chapter director Doug Widener.
“The low-cost, no-cost options are always there, and it comes back to human use patterns. The first thing you need to do is look at how people are using energy in a building, and if it’s not being used correctly, like lights being left on, or computers on all weekend. Making changes to that first [makes] a big difference,” he says.
Widener says the age of school buildings is interesting: New buildings meet all the latest standards, and century-old structures used the best technology of the day, such as location on the lot with respect to trees and the angle of the sun. But Post-World War 2-vintage structures, up to the 1980s, paid little regard to energy efficiency. Some have since been retro-fitted.
For schools, one of the most important factors regarding energy efficiency is their location, Widener says: If they’re located where students can walk or bike to school, they’ll result in less energy use than a school on the edge of town where everyone has to drive or take a bus.