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Long-term thinking key for energy efficiency in K-12 schools

Photo of Ron MacDonald, energy manager for the Vancouver School Board

If one had to evaluate the Vancouver School Board (District #39) on its recently completed five-year energy management plan, it would undoubtedly be marked 'exceeds expectations.' The district had aimed to reduce its electricity usage by 10%, and instead did so by 11%.

The achievement is even sweeter when you consider the sheer number of people involved from the operations, maintenance, and finance teams, and stakeholders like students and teachers – and that they're spread over more than a hundred sites. District #39 energy manager Ron Macdonald says it's a team approach that's only possible because of strategic energy management.

"My role is to identify energy and cost-saving opportunities well in advance, and then establish the business case for moving ahead," he explains. "Strategically, having a rolling list of solid projects helps keep energy management as a high priority when it comes to budget considerations."

The district is trying pilot initiatives, such as incorporating passive-house principles into the design of new buildings. That can include thinking about how a building is oriented on a site – to minimize solar gain while still allowing natural daylight into spaces – as well as testing innovative air systems that maximize free cooling. Strategically coordinating all of the work proactively saves time, money, and energy.

"With a long-term plan, we can have continuous movement each year on our energy goals. Strategic energy management helps the whole team understand the direction we are heading. We're grateful for the support we get from BC Hydro for our various projects." Ron Macdonald, Manager, Energy and Sustainability for School District 39 (Vancouver)

Learn more about the many ways integrating strategic energy management could benefit your business.