In collaboration with David Herman, engineer and father of Peri K.’19

In 2011, Harrisburg Academy received certification as an ENERGY STAR Building from the US Environmental Protection Agency.  To earn this certification, a building must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide, using approximately 35 percent less energy and emitting 35 percent less carbon dioxide than comparable buildings.  The Academy is among an elite group of nine schools in the greater Harrisburg area that has received the ENERGY STAR rating.

You might ask, how did we get there?  The Academy’s journey to environmental sustainability started in 2008 with the adoption our strategic plan, Challenge 2013One of the goals set forth in the plan calls for “greening Harrisburg Academy by incorporating energy efficiency and environmental sustainability into programs and operations.”  A green school creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money.  Green schools provide ample natural light, high-quality acoustics, and safe air to breathe — which in turn makes for a more productive learning environment.

Greening a facility that was originally built in 1959 (which has had major additions and renovations over the past 50 years) is no small task.  The original 1959 building is now the McCormick Auditorium, Middle School classrooms, front office, and Claire Reynolds Joyce Lower School Library.  The Meeting Room and current Business Office reside where the cafeteria was once located.  In 1974, we added the Louis Lehrman Gymnasium, locker rooms, MS science rooms, and both levels of the Upper School.  Between 1996 and 2001, we added the John Butler Davis Gallery, the entire level of Early Childhood and Lower School classrooms, and the MS/US Library with the art suite and classrooms below.

Over the past seven years, we have invested in energy saving projects totaling just over $500,000. These projects have included:  installing air conditioning in every classroom and office that did not previously have it; replacing windows in the Middle School; installing a new heater in the auditorium; retrofitting the lighting in the auditorium, gymnasium, and in classrooms and hallways built prior to 1996; and most recently, replacing the Upper School’s outdated resistance heating units with more efficient heating and air conditioning units.  To better control the HVAC systems of the entire school, we installed a new energy management system that allows us to control heating and cooling by computer — ultimately, helping us to conserve energy and save money on utility costs.

During the past year, the Academy completed an energy audit; the results of the energy audit validated our performance!  Participation in consortiums to purchase both natural gas and electricity has enabled us to save 10 to 13 percent annually on the cost of purchasing these utilities.  Even with the addition of air conditioning throughout the building, electricity consumption has decreased seven percent since 2006; natural gas consumption has decreased 16 percent.  The Academy’s total energy consumption has decreased 11 percent – qualifying us to receive the prestigious ENERGY STAR rating.

We are always striving to provide the best learning environment for our students and working environment for our faculty and staff.  Clearly, our commitment to greening the Academy is paying off and will be at the forefront of decision-making in the future!