Schools in Carolinas embrace energy efficiency and save Schools in Carolinas embrace energy efficiency and save

Schools in Carolinas embrace energy efficiency and save

New HVAC, LED lighting make a difference at Wake County Public Schools


Energy efficiency improvements can bring cost savings to school systems, and they can teach students a lesson.

Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina has installed energy-efficient HVAC systems, LED lights, building envelopes, lighting level and occupancy controls for both lighting and space temperature, which are operated by a digital control system that further optimizes energy efficiency. 

The media center at Conn Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C. Photo: WCPSS Facilities Design & Construction

“These best practices not only demonstrate to the community, staff and students that our facilities are striving to be good stewards of our environment and reduce utility costs, but also can provide teachable opportunities to students and others regarding good fiscal responsibility,” said Douglas Congdon, program executive for the school system’s Facilities Design & Construction. 

The system has submitted more than 30 projects through Duke Energy’s energy savings programs in the last four years, all of which are in various stages today. Two elementary school projects just wrapped up through Duke Energy’s New Construction Energy Efficiency Design Assistance (NCEEDA) program, which will result in about 25% annual energy savings.

The lobby at Conn Elementary. Photo: WCPSS Facilities Design & Construction

NCEEDA is a Smart $aver Custom Program Incentive that provides business customers with an analysis of energy-efficient options ranging from mechanical to lighting systems that can be worked into the designs of new buildings.

“It’s no additional cost for the customer to participate in this program beyond an energy efficiency rider they have to opt into once they receive an incentive,” said Gary Andrews, senior energy efficiency engineer for Duke Energy’s Energy Efficiency Programs.

It’s all about moving customers toward their goals.

Wake County schools’ building program “strives to improve our building energy efficiency,” Congdon said.

“It’s a missed opportunity if we don’t get in early enough,” Andrews said, because different measures interact, like insulation and heating and cooling systems. Customers also get rebate dollars.

“For the customer,” Andrews said, “it’s a whole lot easier.”

School systems improve energy efficiency

  • In 2020, Queens University of Charlotte completed a comprehensive project to improve energy efficiency, sustainability and campus quality while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1,444 tons each year. Measures included new chillers and LED lighting.
  • Backed by the NCEEDA program, Greenville County (S.C.) Schools built an Environmental Science and Sustainability Center at Roper Mountain Science Center, to open June 2021. The center features exhibits about sustainability and was built with sustainable designs in mind. Measures included solar panels and energy-efficient heating and cooling.


More Stories About Insights