California district works on energy efficiency project
Vista Unified School District (VUSD), located in southern California, announced the successes of its energy efficiency project with energy and sustainability expert, Schneider Electric. The culmination of the five phases of projects have provided the school district with upgrades to modernize lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment and thermostat systems to deliver unparalleled efficiency gains. Thus far, the district has generated more than $500,000 in efficiency savings and is expected to total $785,000 in savings by the end of 2019.
Prior to engaging with Schneider Electric, the school district faced challenges such as limited funding for infrastructure improvements and deferred maintenance. While many upgrades have been made, some school sites were using outdated, inefficient systems that created a discrepancy in the school’s philosophy of promoting energy efficiency.
In 2013, the school district turned to Schneider Electric to develop a comprehensive 5-year plan to address the necessary improvements with grant funding available through the Proposition 39 – California Clean Energy Jobs Act to improve the energy efficiency and reliability of its equipment.
“Schneider Electric has allowed us to take advantage of available opportunities to engage in more sustainable practices,” said Dr. Linda Kimble, VUSD superintendent. “Our partnership with Schneider Electric created noteworthy programs for our students to learn more about going green and spark interest in STEM.”
The projects were funded with Prop 39 grant dollars which meant that all resulting energy savings goes straight back to the district where it is needed the most. Each of the phases improved a different aspect of the facilities’ infrastructures such as:
- Replacing antiquated heating and air-conditioning systems
- Installing new LED lighting in select gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, and parking lots
- Installing new thermostats
- Replacing aging building control systems
In addition to infrastructure improvements, Schneider Electric engaged with VUSD students on a personal level to drive interest in STEM education. The school district partnered with Schneider Electric to create a “Read and Ride” bicycle that gave students a visual representation of the energy that could be powered through pedaling a bike connected to a generator. The bicycle was on display at the school’s STEMFest, an annual event that aims to engage students in hands-on learning, and now rotates among the elementary schools. Additional activities Schneider Electric facilitated included a year-long competition among some of the district’s elementary schools around energy efficiency gains and the Conserve My Planetprogram that teaches students how to conserve energy through monitoring power use and other hands-on activities.