by guest blogger, David Herman (parent of Peri K. ’19)

We previously announced Harrisburg Academy’s participation in the 2012 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings.  In the spirit of popular weight-loss competitions, Harrisburg Academy battled it out against thousands of other teams from buildings across the country to work off the waste through improvements in energy efficiency with help from the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

The final results for the 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition have been posted and Harrisburg Academy made significant progress in 2012 compared to 2011. The Academy weighed in with a 4.3 percent energy use reduction through December 2012, saving approximately $3,700 and preventing 17 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equal to that produced by generating the electricity used annually by 2.5 homes or 3 cars). The Academy ranked in the top 35 percent of buildings who competed.

More than 3,000 buildings from across the U.S. battled the scale and each other. The teams in the 2012 competition represented more than 30 different types of commercial buildings, from a Kmart store on the island of St. Thomas, to a crime lab in Phoenix, to Harrisburg Academy.

According to the EPA, energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Thousands of businesses and organizations work with the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and are saving billions of dollars and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere each year.

Harrisburg Academy has been actively working to reduce its energy consumption for the past several years. We established an energy use baseline using the energy consumption for 2008. Since then, the maintenance staff has worked proactively to optimize existing systems and complete several capital projects, including a lighting retrofit and replacement of inefficient HVAC units in the Upper School. The results of these efforts can be seen in the continued annual reduction in energy consumption.

The graph below illustrates the monthly energy consumption (Btu/SF/month) for 2011 and 2012 compared to the 2008 baseline. For 2011, total energy consumption was 14.5 percent less than the 2008 baseline; for 2012, the reduction was 19.4 percent. The savings for 2012 compared to the 2008 baseline equates to approximately $17,000.

Through the concerted effort of the maintenance staff and the participation of all faculty, staff, and students, Harrisburg Academy continues its commitment to environmental sustainability by incorporating energy efficiency and environmental sustainability into its daily programs and operations.