Download Our Complete Resource Guide for Evaluating Sustainable Retrofits for Schools
- Retrofitting Possibilities
- Retrofitting Costs and Benefits
- Featured Projects
- Financing Sources
- LEED Accreditation Advantages
Many schools have already instituted easy-to-stage green projects such as replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights to reduce electricity demand, installing motion-based occupancy sensors to control lights in classrooms and offices, and insulating and weatherizing to decrease heating and air conditioning demands.
There are more technical and financial requirements—as well as potentially greater financial paybacks—in undertaking the following larger projects:
- Replacing aging boilers in schools to decrease water and energy demands
- Replacing aging windows with more energy-efficient systems
- Replacing roofs to provide better insulation
- Converting existing water systems to reusable water and/or low-flow systems to reduce water demands
- Installing solar collectors on roofs or solar screens on east-facing windows to generate a portion of the school’s electrical needs.
The choice of appropriate retrofits for a given school requires the involvement of the school superintendent, the facilities manager, and professionals with experience in green design and retrofits.
Retrofit Costs and Benefits
Determining reliable figures for the costs incurred and the operational savings that may accrue from various types of retrofits requires a feasibility study that includes a preliminary engineering design, cost estimates for retrofit materials plus the manpower to install them, and estimates (based on manufacturers’ specifications) of the future operational costs of the retrofits. The feasibility study will then show a comparison between the present value of historical energy costs incurred by the school and the projected energy costs that include the retrofits.
A feasibility study prepared by an LEED accredited architect (see the following section) will consider a variety of possible retrofits for a given school to identify those that are the most attractive in terms of the school’s priorities, capital costs, ongoing maintenance costs, and impact on the day-to-day functioning of the school. In such a study, the information can be arrayed as either a single project or, for larger projects, a multi-year, multi-stage program.
- Click to view feasibility study for Quabbin Regional Middle High School.
- Click to view energy-efficient boiler replacement for Westford Public Schools.
As a school goes forward with plans for a green retrofit feasibility study, the administration should look for possible grants to help defray the costs. Funding sources evolve over time, and some that are here today are gone tomorrow. Nevertheless, following are some potential sources to consult for possible leads.
- Massachusetts School Building Authority — Green Repair Program for Roofs, Windows, and/or Boilers
- Massachusetts Energy Performance Contracting Program
- U.S. Green Schools Foundation
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) — Green School Buildings
- U.S. EPA — Green Building Funding Opportunities
- American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)
- Walmart Foundation
- Home Depot Foundation — Grants
Researching these institutions will likely lead the school to additional funding sources.
LEED Accreditation Advantages
Accredited professionals in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and the requirements, resources, and processes for environmentally sustainable projects. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization that promotes cost-efficient, energy-saving, and healthy green buildings and communities.
Boston Bay Architects, Inc. is led by Ronald Alex, a LEED accredited architect. Ron is also co-founder and Partner at LPBA Architects, Inc. He and his team have over 30 years of experience working with Massachusetts municipal organizations, including public school superintendents. They have the skills to assist Massachusetts school managers in assessing both the capital costs for a full range of green retrofits and the potential benefits that the school may realize in reduced operating costs.