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Seattle Public Schools is a stellar student when it comes to energy efficiency

Building Tune-Ups in 35 school buildings earned $185,646 in rebates for Seattle Public Schools

While they may not realize anything is different, many students at Seattle Public Schools are now attending classes in buildings that are more energy-efficient and will save the school district money on its energy bills going forward. Seattle Public Schools (SPS) recently completed building “tune-ups” in twenty-two elementary schools, three middle and K-8 schools, nine high schools, and the John Stanford Center. A building tune-up involves helping building owners identify smart, responsible ways to reduce energy and water costs and then implement the improvements.

“Our new schools are being designed and built to be energy efficient, but the Building Tune-Up Program ensures that we keep all of our buildings, not just the new ones, running as efficiently as possible,” said Rina Fa’amoe-Cross, Resource Conservation Specialist for SPS. “Receiving incentive money to tune up buildings ahead of schedule has been a wonderful bonus!”

The City of Seattle requires commercial buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to conduct periodic tune-ups with the largest buildings, 100,000 square feet or greater, required to comply in 2019.  Building Tune-Ups optimize energy and water performance by identifying low- or no-cost actions related to building operations and maintenance, that generate 10-15% in energy savings, on average. Building energy use is the second largest source of climate pollution in Seattle and accelerating our transition to an energy efficient building sector is critical to meeting our climate goals.

Seattle Public Schools participated in the Tune-Up Accelerator program, a voluntary program for owners of buildings up to 100,000 square feet that gave them access to technical assistance and incentives for compliance with the Seattle Building Tune-Up requirement ahead of the deadline. As a result of the successful tune-ups in the twenty-two buildings enrolled in the Accelerator program, SPS was eligible for $185,646 in rebates from Seattle City Light. The rebate money was reinvested in building operations improvements. The building improvements are expected to pay for themselves within 3 to 4 years through substantial savings on utility bills. 

“I applaud Seattle Public Schools for their extensive work on improving performance in so many of their buildings,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment. “Our institutional leaders in Seattle are key partners in our climate action efforts and their leadership in being an “early adopter” of Seattle’s Building Tune-Up policy has provided an excellent example for others to follow.”

“Helping our customers be more efficient with the energy they use maximizes our existing clean, renewable energy resources and furthers Seattle’s effort to reduce our collective carbon footprint,” said Debra Smith, Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO. “This great partnership with Seattle Public Schools demonstrates what is possible and we look forward to working with many others in the days ahead.”

The Tune-Up Accelerator program was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office. Seattle’s award was geared towards solutions to improve the energy efficiency of small and medium commercial buildings.

Seattle’s efforts in driving building energy efficiency continue to show results in national rankings. Recently, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Seattle 3rd overall out of 75 cities nationwide in their 2019 Clean Energy Scorecard. Seattle scored high marks for the Seattle Energy Code, its enforcement of the code, and its efforts to make its existing building stock more energy efficient.