Developing a High Performance School Initiative

Energy Efficiency

Developing a High Performance, Energy Efficient Schools Protocol

Brian McCowan with Gary Epstein and Don Fudge for Zondits, Janaury 7, 2014

Various high performance school initiatives have been developed, representing a broad range of comprehensiveness, including efforts that address all areas of construction and facility operation, to those that address only energy efficiency or renewable energy. Readily known initiatives include the Collaborative for High Performance Schools and the US DOE’s program, as well as specific state-sponsored efforts. While these initiatives can serve the community in describing the requirements of a high performance school facility, they typically do not establish the framework or metrics for incorporation in energy efficiency programs, either because specific technologies and measures are not compatible, or because the efficiency requirements are not strict enough.  The result has been that projects developed to meet the requirements of the high performance school programs do not typically qualify for the efficiency incentives offered by programs supported through rate-payer systems benefit charges.

This presentation describes a large-scale effort sponsored by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) to develop a framework for developing state-by-state consistency for high performance schools in the Northeastern United States, including all of New England and the states of New York and New Jersey. Such a model enables a comprehensive and achievable metric for state certification of advanced school facilities, while also specifying an approach that enables integration in energy efficiency programs.

Our presentation describes the complete details of the project approach, first discussing a challenging effort to interview key state and program officials, assessing the real needs and objectives of state education departments, local school boards, and efficiency program managers/regulators. This component of our work has enabled us to understand the real commonalities and unique differences between the various parties.

Using this important data, we describe the process used for developing a core program of specific advanced school requirements that enables incorporation into existing efficiency programs. Key elements of the integrated initiative are discussed, along with an associated process for project documentation and supporting the market in applying the program.