NIPSCO, Boston Middle School Seek To Make School More Energy Efficient

By: Andrew Rowe Last Updated: June 25, 2015

On Thursday, NIPSCO along with Franklin Energy Services LLC, met with building managers and administrators from Boston Middle School in La Porte to help the school discover and implement energy saving measures which will help to reduce annual energy costs.

J. Moore, NIPSCO’s Accounts Manager for Porter, La Porte and Jasper counties was on site walking through the facility with Franklin Energy and officials from Boston Middle School.

“NIPSCO hires Franklin Energy as a third party to run the Energy Efficiency Program as well as our audits,” Moore said. “They reach out to us and say, ‘Hey we’re going to do school audits’, and then each account manager is assigned [to] schools. This year we’ll be doing between 10 or 11 schools although it changes. Last year I think we did over 20 different schools.”

“Our report will ultimately have all of our findings and recommendations,” said Kurt Kenning, Outreach Lead with Franklin Energy Services. “We’ll be going around accessing and counting lights. Many here are the old, inefficient style so those will be the ones that get replaced. Boston has a few newer fan and pump drive units in place that go with the motors. Newer drive units help to be more efficient so we’ll focus on the motors that don’t have drives. There’s a good chance incentives have been utilized up to this point. That portion saves a minimum 12,000kW/hours and we’ll probably save somewhere near 30,000kW/hours here. At twelve to thirteen cents saved per kW/hour those savings can be pretty substantial in the long run.”

“We’ll be recommending all sorts of things that can save money beyond that,” Kenning continued. “Some of the older lighting is the vapor light fixtures, which are a different type of unit so these things can get a bit expensive to replace. Our solution is a new 40w T-8 bulb. We’re not required to replace the fixture so we will just retrofit it with a new ballast and bulb.“

Lighting in Boston’s gymnasium is good and up to date so there will be no need to replace. They’re currently running 220w bulbs so they are drawing half of the power older style bulbs did. Some of the exit lights throughout the school will be switched to the newer LED style fixtures. These LED’s have become pretty cheap at under $20. In two to three months time, the savings will have paid for itself. The school will also look into installing ‘occupancy sensors’ which will turn lights on and off automatically when kids are present or rooms and hallways are vacant.

“If we put the occupancy sensors in, some will be given to Boston at no cost to the school,” Kenning said. “If there are kids in and out of the room quite a bit that would be a good room for the occupancy sensor. Another recommendation would be putting smart plugs in computer labs, which can regulate the power so when kids are there the computers are powered. When school is out or the computers aren’t on for 15-30 minutes they will shut down. Whatever you plug in that can go off could use those smart plugs.”

“This is all about energy efficiency and safety,” said Marc Cizewski, Director of Facilities for the La Porte Community School Corporation. “Over the last five or six years we budget every year to upgrade our lighting from T-12 to T-8 and we’ve seen anywhere from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars in savings. We can then turn around and use that money to replace even more lights and fixtures.”

In 2012, La Porte High School was audited and received an energy assessment and since then those recommendations are in place or are under way currently. Boston Middle School will be following in those footsteps to try and become as energy efficient as they possibly can.