From green construction to energy-efficiency retrofits to sustainability planning, independent schools are developing strategies to address climate change in ways that rival efforts of their sibling collegiate institutions.
Though their charges are younger, independent schools (private schools grades pre-K–12) often have sophisticated, 21st-century facilities and innovative leadership looking for ways to participate in the global effort to fight our climate crisis. Schools are incubators for young scholars who are fast becoming the most important influencers of climate action.
GreenerU has multiple capabilities to help independent schools achieve greater sustainability, lower energy costs, and comfort. Above all else, our priority is to be responsive and dedicated in meeting our partners’ needs.
Starting in 2012, GreenerU performed a technical assistance study to find energy-efficiency opportunities for Brooks School’s Luce Library. GreenerU found multiple opportunities for energy efficiency, coming up with a plan and financial incentives to replace an outdated chiller and outdated pneumatic controls, and to upgrade lighting. The project led to substantial energy savings for Brooks, reducing building energy costs by $38,000 annually.
GreenerU has assisted Brooks in subsequent investments in reconstructing its ice rink and performing ongoing commissioning and optimization of its equipment for continued energy savings, leveraging maximum utility incentives along the way.
In 2016, in partnership with Consigli Construction Co., Brooks began planning its brand-new Center for the Arts and has involved GreenerU in all mechanical and electrical aspects of the design, including a steam system relocation. Using the 3D modeling capabilities of BIM 360 software, in partnership with the project’s architects and building engineers, GreenerU assisted in the design an energy-efficient system for a new building from the ground up, and managed the installation of these systems as well. The state-of-the-art Brooks Center for the Arts opened in fall 2018 to rave reviews.
In the fall of 2017, Concord Academy partnered with GreenerU’s change management team to develop a sustainability strategic plan, which encouraged participation from all community members. For some, that meant joining one of three working groups dedicated to drafting sustainability goals and strategies for the school to accomplish. For others, that looked more like providing candid feedback on the work completed by the working groups or providing expert insight to shape the contents of the plan. In developing this plan, Concord Academy becomes one of the few secondary schools in the region to set long-term intentions toward becoming more sustainable.
Starting in 2017, Fessenden School’s chief operating officer Mike Grossman began pursuing long-range energy reduction strategies on the school’s campus. Following a utility infrastructure study, one of the main long-term solutions GreenerU recommended was converting the school’s steam heat system to hot water, a technology that reduces energy by 25%.
“GreenerU has been an invaluable partner for us. Our facilities department is much better equipped to manage our campus in a proactive, efficient manner, which has helped us minimize system downtime and lower our overall cost of service.” —Mike Grossman, Chief Operating Officer, Fessenden School
Making the transition, however, requires infrastructure upgrades at each building on the school’s 41-acre campus—an undertaking most schools cannot take on at once. Thus, GreenerU designed a system that enables a gradual shift to hot water when buildings are scheduled for a bundle of renovation projects. The first such building was the Performing Arts Center (PAC), which also had digital controls installed. GreenerU also designed and installed a new energy-efficiency LED lighting system at the school’s ice rink, more than doubling light levels and slashing power consumption by a fraction.
Buckingham, Browne & Nichols — energy audits, boiler replacement, HVAC improvements, lighting
Phillips Academy — dorm energy efficiency, HVAC system renovation at Oliver Wendell Holmes Library
Kimball Union Academy — detailed efficiency and sustainability implementation plan
Governors Academy — boiler renovations, advised on mechanical systems design
Notre Dame Academy — building controls, retrocommissioning, building envelope, lighting