Featuring Guest Blogger, David Herman (engineer and father of Peri K. ’19)

Harrisburg Academy has been selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and protect the environment. In the spirit of popular weight-loss competitions, Harrisburg Academy will battle 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 EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

The teams in the 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition represent more than 30 different types of commercial buildings — such as retail stores, schools, hotels, and museums — and hail from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The competitors range from a K-mart store on the island of St. Thomas and a crime lab in Phoenix, to a Federal office building in Nome, Alaska. Harrisburg Academy is one of a handful of buildings in central Pennsylvania participating and the only K-12 school in Pennsylvania participating.

EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, (energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings): the site will feature a list of the competitors and their “weigh-in” results; a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress; and a user-generated photo stream where competitors will upload pictures of their energy-saving efforts.

“Thousands of buildings across the country are going on energy diets with help from EPA and ENERGY STAR,” said Jean Lupinacci, Director of EPA’s ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings Program.  Organizations like those competing in this year’s National Building Competition are taking a bold step by putting themselves in the spotlight as they compete to protect the environment and save as much energy as possible.”

Competitors will measure and track their building’s monthly energy and water consumption using EPA’s ENERGY STAR online tracking tool, Portfolio Manager; make improvements to their building’s energy performance; and share their progress. Of the initial pool of nearly 3,300 competitors, the building that demonstrates the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy use intensity will be recognized as the winner in April 2013.

New in 2012, EPA is making the battle bigger and better than ever by offering recognition for top water savers. Harrisburg Academy will also compete to improve its water efficiency, which also saves energy. EPA’s WaterSense program will offer tips and guidance to competitors.

“EPA is excited to recognize leading water savers for the first time in this year’s Battle of the Buildings,” said Veronica Blette, Chief of EPA’s WaterSense program. “Organizations taking on the challenge of reducing water and energy demonstrate leadership in the overall greening of their facilities.”

To try to reduce the amount of energy and water being used, Harrisburg Academy has taken the following steps over the past several years:

• Replaced inefficient lighting with energy-efficient lighting
• Replaced inefficient electric heating units with more efficient heat pump units in Upper School classrooms
• Replaced windows in the Middle School
• Installed an updated energy management system that allows control of heating and cooling by computer
• Ensured all building systems — such as air conditioning, heating, and lighting — are working efficiently and are properly maintained
• Replaced existing toilets with low-flow flush valves
• Replaced existing faucets with low-flow aerators or automatic low-flow faucets

But, we need your help! Small changes add up to big savings, so every little bit counts. Here are just a few ways folks in our building can pitch in:

• Turn off lights when there’s enough daylight to light classrooms, workspace, or community spaces when you leave an empty room and at the end of the day
• Enable the ENERGY STAR power management features on computers and monitor so they go into power save mode when not in use
• Unplug electronics such as cell phones and laptops once they are charged
• Keep air vents clear of paper, files, and school supplies
• Report water leaks in restrooms or irrigation systems throughout the school.

According to EPA, energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent 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 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.

We will keep you updated on the Academy’s progress as the competition progresses. Watch the battle unfold! www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings