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Davis Journal

Energy efficiency saves money while providing better learning environment

Nov 10, 2021 12:20PM ● By Becky Ginos

Farmington High has many energy saving systems in place. Ten schools have photovoltaic panels on their roofs and 16 schools have ground source heating and cooling options. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

FARMINGTON—The Davis School District has seen an increase of just under 3 million square feet over the last 14 years, but energy use has actually gone down by 13 percent.

“That’s a lot of buildings,” said District Utility Services Director Doug Anderson during a presentation to the school board. “I love energy management, it’s a passion of mine. We’re behind the scenes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But we’re able to provide a better learning environment for the students both in comfort and in light while returning money to the district for education.”

Anderson said there was a drop in energy usage during COVID when all of the schools were shut down. “There was nobody there for a time. Then you can see that we’re rising again. Some of the things we’re doing for COVID is we’re running the air two hours before school starts and two hours after students leave to purge the building and try and get rid of the virus. We also had several summer programs this year that we haven’t had in the past so we had to run the air conditioners for those.”

The department tracks a lot of things, he said. “We track heating and cooling days, student count and how many thousands of gallons of water we use. We track our natural gas and CO2 we emit. We’re also beginning to track our renewable generation.”

Utility costs have increased, said Anderson. “Back in 2006 we paid $7.2 million for natural gas electricity and today we paid $8.2 million this fiscal year. Our kilowatt hours increased. That’s how much time you leave a light on, that’s a kilowatt hour. That’s increased by 5 percent which isn’t bad when you consider we’ve increased the square footage by 36 percent and air conditioned many of our facilities.”

Schools use electricity more and more to heat and cool the buildings, he said. “We’re using a little bit less gas because of that. Also our decrease in gas is because of all the upgrades we’ve done. We’ve upgraded the boilers that were really old, we’ve gone through the schools and upgraded the buildings’ automation system and gotten rid of the old numatics where you can turn the thermostat up and hear the air hiss out of it. They’re electronic now so you can visually see that offline.”

The energy department has also received praise from professionals outside of the district. Paul A. Mathew, Ph.D. Staff Scientist, Department head, Whole Building Systems Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory made the following statement: “We were impressed to hear about the energy team’s work and Doug Anderson’s leadership to make energy efficiency a priority in Davis School District operations. In particular, we were struck by his focus on building trust among different functions and key stakeholders in the district, which has enabled Davis School District to make many energy efficiency investments such as in system controls – which has energy, comfort and maintenance benefits.”

“Mr. Anderson and his group are exceptional,” said Superintendent Reid Newey. “The effort they make is great for the kids as well as the teachers. Teachers are happy when they have some level of comfort in the buildings.”