Bullitt County Public Schools' Energy Management Program and District Energy Plan - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Utilities  -  June 30, 2023 - By Better Buildings

Bullitt County Public Schools' Energy Management Program and District Energy Plan

Bullitt County Public Schools (BCPS) developed a district-wide energy plan to identify and implement cost-saving measures in response to rising energy costs and aging buildings in need of HVAC and lighting upgrades. As an educational institution, BCPS also wanted to engage staff and students in energy management practices as part of the overall energy management plan. As of 2019, the district has achieved almost $7.6 million in energy and operational cost savings over the past 12 years and an energy use intensity (EUI) reduction of 21% from a 2013 baseline in 2019.

BCPS is one of five public Kentucky school districts that participated in a pilot program with the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) in 2006. KEEPS helped Bullitt build a foundation for and successfully implement a school energy management program. KEEPS also served as a reporting agency that gathered annual energy use and cost data from all public-school districts in Kentucky, so districts could measure and track their improvements over time. The following two policies were introduced by BCPS in collaboration with KEEPS:

Bullitt County District Energy Plan: In accordance with District Policy 05.23 Energy Management, BCPS must use energy resources in a safe and efficient manner with continuous efforts to identify and implement opportunities to save costs, such as recent updates to include new filter and lighting technologies, while also engaging staff and students to commit to energy-saving practices.

Bullitt County Public Schools Energy Management Program: Established in November 2006 through KEEPS, the BCPS Energy Management Program included hiring an Energy Manager, creating an energy management plan, and making low- and no-cost changes to reduce energy consumption. BCPS promotes energy conservation through a variety of innovative programs and initiatives, including an energy mascot contest, pre-holiday break shutdown checklists, and school energy teams.

The program officially began in November of 2006 by first hiring a district Energy Manager. The Energy Manager is responsible for reporting the energy use and cost data and coordinates all energy management efforts across the district. The Energy Manager, along with the District Energy Committee, also developed guidelines for all BCPS building users (from students to external groups), covering HVAC temperature settings and schedules, filter maintenance, lighting, and other topics.

Implementation was divided into three phases, focusing on specific schools and buildings in each phase. In the first year, the district noted a usage reduction of 11% in electricity (kWh), 7% in natural gas (ccf), and 1% in propane over the baseline, which resulted in a cost avoidance (including credits from the utility for corrected accounts) of over $240,000. The energy conservation efforts and cost savings were tracked by the Energy Manager utilizing ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, an online tool used for tracking energy and water consumption that provides each building with a 1-100 score for energy efficiency.

Measuring Success
From the beginning of the BCPS Energy Management Program, the district was able to measure the impact of its efforts by tracking the annual reduction in energy use (kBtu/sq.ft.) and cost from $2,268,560 in 2006 to $2,120,155 in 2019.

All existing and new district buildings are benchmarked using the Portfolio Manager tool, which provides each building with a 1-100 score for energy efficiency. The district requires that all newly constructed buildings achieve the “Designed to Earn ENERGY STAR” designation. Based on the rating, existing buildings with the most potential to earn the ENERGY STAR award during the next year are prioritized by the district for future upgrades.

List of capital projects:

Four new HVAC systems, including dedicated outside air systems that circulate fresh air; completed in 2009 - First year savings $144,800
New chillers for one HVAC system at a high school; completed in 2009 – First year savings $20,000
Total Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing renovation of three buildings; completed in 2015 (two buildings) and 2018 (one building) – First year savings $53,000 district wide installation of LED lights; completed in 2019. – Projected to save $460,000 in the first year. 

The BCPS Energy Management Program continues to realize increased annual energy savings since the launch of the program in 2006. As of 2019, BCBS reduced energy consumption by 21% from a 2013 baseline across its 2 million square foot portfolio comprised of 27 buildings. This achievement surpassed the district’s goal of a 20% reduction by 2026, eight years ahead of schedule.

In the 2016-2017 end of year report, BCPS estimated the utility costs without the implementation of the Energy Management Plan would total over $780,000 during the 2016-2017 school year alone. The cost to implement the Energy Management Program in 2016-2017 was approximately $90,000 for the Energy Manager’s budget and salary. With bond re-payment factored in, the district netted a savings of $442,694.

Since the inception of the program in 2006 BCPS has:

  • Saved and nearly $7.6 million in utility costs;
  • Spent approximately $76,000 annually to run the Energy Management Program;
  • Repaid $3.1 million for the ESPC bond.

This has left the district with a net cost avoidance of approximately $6.6 million.

As of September 2019, the BCPS Energy Management Program has saved nearly $7.6 million through an average electricity reduction of 35%, natural gas reduction of 40%, and elimination of propane gas use. In addition, during this time, the district increased their square footage by over 600,000 square feet and are still using approximately 34% less total energy (kBtu) as compared to the baseline year.

BCPS earned the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award in 2016 and 2019 for building a sustainable energy program with ENERGY STAR and creating an optimal learning environment for students. In 2019, the district was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Better Buildings Challenge Goal Achiever eight years ahead of schedule. BCPS recently announced a new goal of a 30% reduction in energy consumption over a 2013 baseline by 2026 and has added a 20% water goal to their commitment, demonstrating their continual dedication to a cleaner and healthier environment for its students and the wider community.


This column originally appeared as a blog on the Better Buildings website.


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