Your school can spend 3X less on utility costs allowing you to invest 3x more in your students

Sligo Adventist School, Takoma Park, Maryland
46,000 Sq. Feet
40 Employees
Annual cash savings: $ 11,136.00
Payback period: 18 Months

Kenneth Gair, the Plant Manager for Sligo Adventist School in Takoma Park, MD, knows that energy-efficiency programs can provide expert technical assistance for implementing environmentally sound — and money-saving — upgrade projects. He first heard about EPA’s ENERGY STAR program at an environmental conservation awards banquet sponsored by a Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) subsidiary, Commercial Energy Services. Although he had already started to upgrade the lighting in his 46,000-sq.ft. facility, Gair felt that the technical expertise he would get by joining ENERGY STAR for small business would make his project speedy and successful. He was not disappointed.

Upgrade Overview: Gold Stars for Sligo
Gair decided to upgrade because the school’s lighting was over 30 years old and very inefficient. Before the upgrade, Sligo had 423 forty-watt, T-12, standard fluorescent light fixtures with magnetic ballasts and 285 fixtures with 75-to-300-watt incandescent lamps. Outdoor security lighting had been practically nonexistent because it cost so much to run the high-wattage incandescents. The 423 fixtures with T-12 lamps were replaced with energy-efficient 32-watt T-8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts. The high-wattage incandescent lamps were converted to HID metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and compact quad-tube with electronic ballasts — which decreased the wattage by more than half and increased light levels. Since the upgrade, school employees have remarked upon the increased outdoor lighting and how it makes them feel safer at night.

To cut the number of hours that lights are on in the school, Gair installed 62 occupancy sensors and three additional daylight switches. (Prior to the upgrade, the school had 135 manual light switches and three daylight switches). Infrared sensors were installed in the classrooms and offices, and ultrasonic sensors were installed in school bathrooms. Gair also upgraded 19 exit signs from incandescent to LED, reducing the watts per fixture by approximately 80 percent.

Financing 101
Sligo’s lighting upgrade was financed by various sources, including PEPCO utility rebates, the school’s general fund, the Parent Teacher Council, and the general maintenance budget. Although “sticker shock” was an initial problem for financing the $44,728 lighting project (even though $27,527 of the cost was covered by rebates), once Gair gained the support of the Parent Teacher Council — to the tune of $2,000 — it was easy to convince others that they needed to invest in order to save.

Gair planned to solicit bids for the materials if his regular supplier did not give him the price he wanted. Fortunately, the supplier came through, and Gair surveyed, purchased, and installed the new lighting himself. Sligo then joined with the Takoma Academy next door and several local churches to recycle the old, PCB-containing ballasts. Since this partnership increased the volume of ballasts, the recycling company reduced their price, saving Gair 50 percent on recycling costs. The success of Sligo’s lighting upgrade led Gair to sell the idea of energy efficiency to the Takoma Academy and Columbia Union College. Closer to home, Gair is now considering upgrading the facility’s HVAC, building envelope, and water system. Although he was able to install the new lighting system himself, he knows he will need the advice and technical help provided by EPA’s ENERGY STAR for small business program if he installs a new chiller or variable speed motors.