Saving Energy in Nantucket Schools

Sponsor: Nantucket Public Schools
Sponsor Liaison: Diane O’Neil, Facilities Manager
Student Team: Paul Hastings, Passe Meas, Marisa Warner
Abstract: The goal of our project was to analyze how the Nantucket Public Schools use energy and to make recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption. To address this goal, we performed a detailed technical and behavioral energy audit of the school buildings, which consisted of field data collection, analysis of past energy bills, distributing surveys, observing classrooms, and conducting interviews with teachers. Using the information gathered from the energy audits we offered the Nantucket Public Schools recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, we created a website containing energy facts and conservation tips to serve as an educational resource to the students and faculty of Nantucket Public Schools, as well as the community of Nantucket.
Link: NPS_Final_Report_121913

Executive Summary

Nantucket is an island 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts and experiences even higher energy rates than the New England mainland due to the cost of transporting energy to the island. Nearly all of Nantucket’s electricity is transported through two underwater cables that connect from Harwich and Hyannis, Massachusetts. Residents of Nantucket have to pay an additional surcharge for electricity to cover the costs of these cables. Unfortunately, the increasing population of Nantucket and seasonal tourism on the island has dramatically increased the demand for electricity. To forestall the installation of a third cable and meet the increasing demand, Nantucket has embarked on efforts to reduce energy consumption and corresponding costs of energy.

The Nantucket Public Schools account for about 16% percent of the town’s municipal energy consumption. Though the total amount of energy consumed by Nantucket Public Schools is known, the details of how it is being consumed is not well known. The breakdown of where energy is being consumed and how it is being consumed can be determined by performing an energy audit on the schools.
The purpose of this project was to aid the Nantucket Public Schools in decreasing energy consumption within school buildings. This was accomplished by providing the schools’ administration with a detailed assessment of energy consumption patterns in each school building. The analysis consisted of a technical assessment to determine how much energy was being consumed by appliances and electrical devices as well as a behavioral assessment, that identified the practical uses of energy and how energy was being consumed in the school buildings.

Additionally, an educational resource for energy conservation and energy consumption awareness was developed for both the students and faculty of the Nantucket Public Schools. The resource was created using the information gathered from the technical and behavioral assessments and provides users with information regarding energy, how energy is consumed in Nantucket, how energy is consumed in Nantucket Public Schools, and energy conservation strategies.
As part of our energy audit of the Nantucket Public Schools, we assessed every room for thermal inefficiency and improvements in reducing energy consumption. We most frequently used the Forward Looking Infrared camera (FLIR) to find changes in temperature identifying heat leaks within the buildings. We also used the FLIR on the rooftops of each building. Although our initial goal was to identify leaks within the rooftop infrastructure, we later found that doors, windows, and walls were a much greater issue.

The behavioral assessment consisted of staff surveys and classroom observations. To help us gain a better understanding of energy use in Nantucket Public Schools we administered two different surveys to the staff of all four schools. The first survey asked a series of demographic questions to determine the sample size of each school and was designed to assess the existing energy conservation knowledge of the staff members. The second survey was intended to provide us with more statistical data regarding energy use in the schools. The second survey also asked questions about personal appliances and electronic devices, energy educational resources, and the efficiency of the schools’ HVAC systems.

Our team observed 13 classes at Nantucket Public Schools. Each class observation typically lasted two hours and had 1-3 team members observing. Throughout the duration of class time, each observer would complete an observation sheet, which asked the observer to elaborate on different aspects of energy use in the classroom, such as heating, lighting and electricity use.

After applying our methods to the Nantucket Public Schools, we obtained results that have helped us determine ways for Nantucket Public Schools to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, we have created educational resources regarding energy awareness and conservation for the students and staff of the Nantucket Public Schools as well as the general public.

Overall, there are both behavioral and technical improvements that Nantucket Public Schools can implement to conserve energy. As a team, we have come to three conclusions: most of the staff at Nantucket Public Schools is adequately aware of energy conservation and consumption at the schools, numerous opportunities exist for energy awareness improvements within the schools to conserve energy, and energy is wasted by old appliances and electrical devices.

First, to educate the staff on energy awareness we created an educational website that contains energy facts that are linked to QR codes. These QR codes are displayed on energy conservation posters posted on the walls at the schools. We also recommend that the school create an energy club that could help manage and maintain this website. Another recommendation is for the schools to integrate energy educational resources into the curriculum. Special websites such as, Energy Information Administration: Energy for Kids, and the National Grid Energy Explorer all have certified curricula ranging from simple calculations to student home audit projects to help reduce energy consumption.

Second, to improve energy conservation in the schools, we recommend that the administration consider installing energy efficient windows and weather stripping, re-evaluate the placement of certain lights in hallways, improve HVAC systems, as well as inspect the Elementary school outer walls for insulation. We also suggest that the schools utilize blackout shades in rooms that are seasonally affected by wind turbine flickering.

Third, from our inventory we discovered many personal appliances such as miniature refrigerators, microwaves, lamps and printers. We totaled all of the devices discovered in the four public schools and created a comprehensive inventory of each school. From our inventory and data collection we created an excel sheet which includes the approximate energy consumption of all appliances and devices per week as well as the typical hours the device is used per week. From these readings we were able to develop a cost benefit analysis to determine where the schools can save energy. By removing personal appliances from where they are not necessary, energy consumption within the schools can be reduced. These appliances can be sold or traded in through a recycling program for rebates to assist in the payments of energy efficient appliances.