Boulder Valley School District Embarks on Ambitious Goal of Net-Zero Energy
In partnership with energy design consultant McKinstry, district-wide energy upgrades and new construction projects are expected to yield major energy and cost savings
BOULDER, Colo. – (April 11, 2017) – Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and full-service design-build firm McKinstry are in the midst of a years-long sustainable energy program targeting net-zero energy in 11 school facilities. Net-zero capability is achieved when the amount of energy generated through on-site renewables is equal to or more than the energy consumed by building users.
A $576.5 million bond approved by voters in 2014 will allot funds for the projects, which include a mix of five deep energy retrofits, one recommissioning retrofit and five new-construction projects. The combined energy measures are expected to curb the district’s utility costs by $307,000 annually while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and the district’s carbon footprint.
“These improvements will help move BVSD toward our goal of becoming a Zero Net Energy District, will reduce our energy expenses, and will provide a healthier, more comfortable learning and working environment for all school occupants,” said Jeff Medwetz, BVSD project manager of energy systems.
McKinstry serves as the energy design consultant contracted by BVSD to audit existing facilities for areas of improvement, modeling the effects of different energy-improvements on future energy use, commissioning services for the design and construction scope of work, measuring and verifying actual energy performance and providing energy management services once systems are online.
BVSD aims to reduce the energy usage of each existing facility by about half to reach net-zero capability.
In doing so, BSVD is among six districts nationwide participating in the U.S. Energy Department’s (DOE) Better Buildings Zero Energy Schools Accelerator, aimed at helping net-zero schools go mainstream. According to the DOE, net-zero schools use 65-80 percent less energy than conventionally-built schools and help improve learning environments.
Last summer, contractors completed the first deep energy retrofit at Broomfield Heights Middle School. The 107,750-square-foot, two-level building was originally built in 1983. McKinstry served as the consultant assisting with design and construction oversight of facility improvement measures including building envelope upgrades, LED lighting upgrades and an entire mechanical system retrofit. The new modern HVAC system integrates chilled beams with heat recovery systems.
A year-long energy management and verification phase is currently underway. McKinstry is monitoring the school’s energy performance in real-time against the project’s energy model, enabling the project team to correct any irregularities that could impact performance.
Despite an increase in total operating hours, the energy measures at Broomfield Heights Middle School are projected to reduce Energy Use Intensity (EUI) – a measure of energy usage per square foot – from 60.7 EUI to 43 EUI. To reach the net-zero threshold of 35 EUI during the one-year measurement and verification period, McKinstry and BVSD will work in tandem to identify operational enhancements. One example is engaging building occupants in behaviors that support energy efficiency and sustainability.
“The community’s investment in net-zero schools is a reflection of the collective commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Greg Spalding, McKinstry commissioning manager for the Rocky Mountain region. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the dedicated team at BVSD, and hope to inspire other districts across the country to follow suit.”
In addition to Broomfield Heights Middle School, McKinstry is tabbed as the energy services consultant for energy retrofit projects at BVSD’s Boulder High School (under construction), Centaurus High School (in design), Broomfield High School (in design), and Fairview High School (in design). Platt Middle School will also undergo an energy retrofit.
McKinstry will serve in the same role to help BVSD implement high-efficiency building systems in four school facilities – to open to students during the 2017-2018 school year – including Douglass Elementary School, Creekside Elementary School, Emerald Elementary School and Erie K-8, as well as a new transportation center.
Energy and utility costs generally account for 20 to 40 percent of a school’s maintenance and operations budget, and can be much higher if equipment is beyond its useful life. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, K-12 districts spend more on utility costs than they do on computers and textbooks.
Modernized building systems can also affect learning environments. A recent U.S. Green Building Council report concludes that thermal comfort “affect the stress levels, health and well-being of occupants in schools,” and can influence student achievement.
McKinstry is a full-service, design-build-operate-and-maintain (DBOM) firm specializing in consulting, construction, energy and facility services. The firm’s innovative, integrated delivery methodology provides clients with a single point of accountability that drives waste and redundancy out of the design/build process. With over 1,600 professional staff and trades people throughout the United States and operations in more than 15 states, McKinstry advocates collaborative, sustainable solutions designed to ensure occupant comfort, improve systems efficiency, reduce facility operational costs, and optimize profitability “For The Life of Your Building.”