School energy audits find millions in potential energy savings

Mar 25, 2011

A two-year energy audit of Hamilton schools has identified energy conservation measures that could reduce their energy costs by almost $2.4 million annually. The audit was conducted by engineering faculty and students at McMaster University.

The measures, presented today to officials from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, range from recaulking windows, adding insulation and using more efficient lighting to new investments in advanced heat recovery systems and boilers, and solar and wind generating systems.

"We found that the school boards are already involved in implementing many of the more achievable energy conservation measures at their schools," said Samir Chidiac, professor of civil engineering at McMaster and one of the lead organizers of the audit. "But they need support and decision tools to install technologies that will generate the greatest savings over the long term."

The energy audit, which was sponsored by Union Gas, was conducted by seven mechanical and civil engineering students working on co-op terms, supervised by two McMaster research engineers.

"Through the Union Gas EnerSmart program, we help our business customers make smart investments in energy-efficient equipment and technologies," said Mel Ydreos, vice-president of marketing and customer care at Union Gas. "The McMaster students and their advisors have clearly demonstrated investment opportunities for Hamilton schools to significantly reduce energy costs while also reducing their ."

The students first classified all the schools into groups with similar characteristics referred to as archetypes. The criteria for establishing archetypes included the school size, operation, building envelope, electrical, heating, cooling and properties. The students then visited a subset of the schools representing the various archetypes to conduct full energy audits. The findings for each school were applied to the rest of the schools in their archetype to calculate savings potential. The use of archetyping reduced the time that would normally be required to fully audit all schools by six years.

"This archetype system can very easily be applied to any system in a similar climate zone to calculate energy savings potential," said Jim Cotton, associate professor of mechanical engineering, McMaster University. "The opportunities for reduced energy consumption and cost saving are tremendous."

If all the audit's recommendations were implemented in Hamilton-Wentworth's schools, natural gas consumption could be reduced by more than 5 million cubic meters, or enough to heat more than 2,140 homes, and electrical consumption would be reduced by almost 2.8 million kWh.

"We are very appreciative of the work done by McMaster," said Tim Simmons, Vice-Chair of the HWDSB Board of Trustees. "It is not something we could have done on our own. The findings reaffirm that our current programs are moving in the right direction. It will also help us assess opportunities for energy savings requiring larger investments for both existing schools and schools that will be built in future."

"This initiative builds upon our system's commitment to the efficient use of all resources and good stewardship practices," said HWCDSB Chairperson Patrick J. Daly. "We are looking forward to further developing our relationship with McMaster in assessing energy reduction programs, particularly where students can be involved. We have found that energy consumption in our schools decreases when students are actively engaged in helping to save energy."

The engineering students have also given talks to science and physics classes regarding their work. One high-school student also became involved in the energy audit.

"One of the greatest benefits of this program is the hands-on experience gained by our ," said David Wilkinson, dean, Faculty of Engineering at McMaster. "They are the ones who will be designing our schools and energy systems in the future so this work is invaluable for them and for all of us."

Explore further: Old timey car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

College Board weighs online science labs

Oct 20, 2006

The College Board is studying whether virtual science labs are acceptable for Advance Placement coursework for U.S. high school science students.

Drug testing in schools up

Jul 12, 2006

Higher funding and the lowering of legal constraints are encouraging more U.S. schools to test students for use of illegal drugs.

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

Wireless power transfer achieved at five-meter distance

Apr 17, 2014

The way electronic devices receive their power has changed tremendously over the past few decades, from wired to non-wired. Users today enjoy all kinds of wireless electronic gadgets including cell phones, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...