U.S. Department of Energy Recognizes Arizona School
Green Living, August 12, 2015. Image credit: jarmoluk
As one of the oldest schools in the Dysart school district, Kingswood had been running on 30-year-old heating and cooling systems that were eating up energy and money. With the help of Constellation Energy, Kingswood was able to upgrade their chiller system to two chilled water pumps and two cooling towers, a more energy efficient decision. Now, the new chillers, which cool the school before the students arrive, can be controlled from the main Dysart district office, while keeping energy usage low. Solar hot water heaters were also installed to further reduce energy costs.
Another renewable feature of Kingswood is their solar panels, which cover two parking lots, as well as a long stretch of grass on the field. The system is designed for two purposes: to produce energy and to supply shade. Installed by Constellation, at no cost for the school district, these panels provide 70 percent of the energy used by Kingswood. Maria Vargas of the DOE called this amount “absolutely remarkable,” as most places with solar panels power their buildings with 50 to 60 percent of solar energy created.
These upgraded technologies come as part of the Better Buildings Challenge (BBC) by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The BBC began in 2011 with a challenge to the marketplace to develop solutions that could reduce energy usage in commercial buildings. Currently, 15 school districts in the U.S. are taking part in the challenge, including Dysart. In the past two years of having solar panels, Kingswood has achieved 16 percent energy savings, an achievement the DOE finds very commendable. “Other schools can learn from you,” said Vargas. “You’re demonstrating what schools of the future could look like.”