Schools improve building energy efficiency with auditing services

Schools in Grand Rapids are set to benefit from an energy audit provided by the Michigan Department of Energy's Rebuild Michigan program, according to MLive.

The program aims to increase the energy efficiency and management of buildings throughout the state. The school district will also become the first in Michigan to host a Green Schools Fellow with the help of the U.S. Green Building Council to improve learning for students.

"This will be helpful information that can help the district reduce energy use and achieve cost savings," said Renae Hesselink, chair of the West Michigan U.S. Green Building Council Green School Committee.

Other school districts in the state as well as Grand Rapids Community College have used auditing services to enhance the sustainability of their operations. Out of the district's 43 buildings, Hesselink said the committee will look into aging and more recent buildings to be part of the audit, which will begin by collecting 12 months of energy data to serve as a baseline.

California schools investing in retrofits, solar projects

Across the country in California, the state's Department of Education is looking to update building components for more energy savings, according to The Business Journal. Last year, voters approved Proposition 39, which will allow the state to receive an additional $381 million to install more efficient lighting, new ventilation systems and other equipment.

Fresno Unified School District is expected to obtain the third largest amount from Prop. 39, after Long Beach and Los Angeles districts.

Frank LiDiddo, energy manager at Fresno Unified School District, said money will help the district's schools meet energy efficiency requirements and state building standards. This includes paying to fix maintenance problems and other energy-related issues.

"Every dollar we invest in an energy efficiency project, we have to receive a $1.05 (savings) in return," LiDiddo said, in reference to Prop. 39 rules. "We want to save energy, but that's not what we're trying to do. We want to make our learning top notch."

Once energy audits within the district are completed and the California Energy Commission approves the energy savings project, LiDiddo said work will begin on buildings on older parts of campuses, including Fresno High School, which is over 90 years old. The district could receive up to $4 million in 2014. Other school districts have been investing in solar projects, such as one worth $25 million at Clovis Unified, in order to reduce operating costs.

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