HARVARD — With four full years of data in hand, Brian Smith, chairman of the Harvard Energy Advisory Committee, told the Harvard School Committee “we have a really good sense of what’s going on.”
Smith provided an update on how energy-conservation projects have played out and to discuss future target areas.
For oil, gas and electricity between Hildreth Elementary School and The Bromfield Middle/High School, the costs have tallied as follows:
* $414,000 in fiscal 2008;
* $330,000 in fiscal 2009;
* $308,000 in fiscal 2010;
* $320,823 in fiscal 2011.
Smith said there was a “big drop initially” and then the spending “hovered for three years.” Energy prices were lower, relatively speaking, in 2009 but prices have “sort of bumped up since then.”
And then winter weather plays a role in energy consumption and cost. Nonetheless, Bromfield’s sheer mass meant the building has served as a “significant” focus of the Energy Advisory Committee’s work for “not only the school but the entire town on energy consumption.”
At 154,000 square feet, Bromfield is 50 percent larger than the 92,000 square-foot Hildreth Elementary School located across the street.
On electricity use, Bromfield has dropped from 10,000 MMBTUs (Million British Thermal Units) to 7,500 MMBTUs and holdings “steady” in 2011.
At Hildreth Elementary School, the MMBTUs have remained steadily within the 4,000-5,000 MMBTU range since 2008.
The schools both stack up favorably against the Massachusetts Energy insight software program, which compared 700 school buildings in Massachusetts. Both are below the state median in terms of energy consumption per square foot of space. But Smith said Bromfield is “impressive” when compared against the pack.
As far as gas and oil consumption, temperature comes back into play. The winters of 2009 and 2011 were colder years, Smith said. Therefore, there was a greater demand on heating fuel at the schools. Even adjusting for temperature fluctuation, Smith said there was still an increased energy use detected at Hildreth Elementary School, despite a school-wide lowering of the average temperature instituted three winters ago.
At Bromfield, the track record is much more impressive, recording a 6 percent drop in fuel use from 2010 to 2011. Adjusted for the temperature fluctuations, Smith said the fuel savings was more in the 15 percent zone. “That’s significant” said Smith.
From 2008 through 2011, Smith said there’s been a 40 percent drop in heating fuel energy at Bromfield. ” Awesome,” said De.
Over the past four years, Bromfield has seen boiler and burner replacements in fiscal 2009 and a significant lighting upgrade in fiscal 2010, along with control upgrades in the gym, library and cafeteria. Hildreth Elementary has undergone a conversion to gas heat and lighting upgrades and a variable speed drive for the hot water boiler that was installed in April.
Looking ahead, Smith said more attention is to be paid at gas-usage levels at Hildreth and the electricity usage at the Bromfield School. At Bromfield, it’s believed that a massive sweep to fix broken equipment at Bromfield contributed to more machinery working and actually drawing power, thus ramping up usage.
As was done at Bromfield, a staff survey is to be launched to try to document energy issues at Hildreth Elementary School.
In the pipeline is tallying the repair needs at Bromfield. That list is in a contractor’s hands. And Bromfield’s solar project is to be up and running by the need of December. Still being explored is converting Bromfield to natural gas heat.
At Hildreth elementary the push will be towards automated controls to help with both electricity and fuel consumption. ” Now the control says”on” and “off,” said Smith.
School Committee member SusanMary Redinger noted that at the elementary school “kids are dressed for cold weather but they’re hot.” Heaters are flicked on and temperatures rise in some rooms while others are very cold. “I think there may be overall public-relations work that can be done for teachers and students.”
Smith said the hunt is on to determine why Hildreth Elementary didn’t experience as steep an energy savings as projected.
“We’re delighted to continue working with you guys,” said School Committee Chairman Keith Cheveralls. One shared field is on any capital projects needed to tamp down on energy costs.
Smith said such costs must be reflected in the school’s capital-request listing. Interim School Superintendent Joseph Connelly said any such needs will be built into the school’s’ five-year capital plan underfoot. Connelly noted the Energy Advisory Committee’s work. “This committee in town not only does a lot of long range planning but they also serve as consultants to us. I want to thank you publicly.”