Chisago Lakes Middle School
Goal: Become a Green Ribbon School to reduce energy use and increase comfort.
Progress: Became a Green Ribbon School in 2014
Partners: Chisago Lakes School District
Chisago Lakes Middle School’s (CLMS) dedication to the environment is obvious by the 116 Photovoltaic solar panel system mounted to their roof. Solar panels are not the only part of the school helping to save energy and reduce emissions. CLMS called in the Center for Energy and Environment to take a deeper look into the building’s systems and envelope to find improvements that helped to significantly increase the efficiency of the building. It was these actions that helped earn CLMS a 2014 Green Ribbon Schools award, one of only 48 schools in the nation to receive this recognition.
Tim Burton, the Director of Building and Grounds for Chisago Lakes Area Schools, invited CEE’s engineering services and research team to CLMS to help fix multiple heating and cooling problems. Staff and students were complaining of draftiness and temperature fluctuations throughout the day and building operators were struggling to maintain control of the ventilation system with their Building Automation System.
To help address these issues, CEE staff did two things. First, CEE's Engineering Services team analyzed trend data and suggested improved control for the recently installed new condensing boiler and recovery ventilation system. Second, Dave Bohac P.E., CEE’s Director of Research, conducted air leakage studies and recommended sealing all of the air leaks in the building to reduce draftiness throughout the school. CLMS followed through with the recommended improvements and CEE staff continued to work with them throughout the process.
"Once the issues have been identified and the implementation phase is complete, CEE does not disappear into the sunset,” said Tim. “They spend a good duration of time testing and verifying that the corrective measures put in place are effective. This verification period is stretched over multiple season changes."
Following through on the recommendations and creating a more efficient school helped CLMS earn the Green Ribbon School award. For CLMS, as with many schools, completing all the requirements to receive a Green Ribbon School award required complicated heating and cooling updates, which has the potential to be overwhelming. Tim’s advice for schools in similar situations:
"You do not need to be a brand new LEED Certified Building to be honored with a prestigious award like this. We are an 82 year old building with multiple additions and many complexities. If you set a goal for yourself and assemble the right team it is achievable. CEE was part of our team.”
Not only did the work of CEE’s engineering services and research teams improve the efficiency of the school and help CLMS win a Green Ribbon School award, it also helped save the school about $2,900 a year in energy costs. Most importantly, the suggested improvements resulted in a significantly more comfortable school for students and staff.