The Education Sector includes the West Chester Area School District, West Chester University, all of the private and charter schools and early learning centers in the area as well as nonprofit institutions like the Melton Center, Senior Center and the Chester County History Center.
WCU can be held up as a leader in the Education Sector. This section will review the challenges and opportunities for all of the education and nonprofit entities in the area.
As entities that do not pay federal taxes, other financing options need to be explored beyond tax credits.
An energy profile provides the quantity of energy used by an organization in a specific time period and can also provide the change in energy usage over time. Information has been available so far for West Chester University and for the West Chester Area School District. Information for other educational institutions in the West Chester area is being collected at this time and will be included as received.
West Chester University - WCU has set aggressive climate goals and has taken some bold actions to reduce their carbon footprint and transform their energy profile. As shown in the table below, WCU has reduced its energy usage by over 20% between 2019 and 2021.
WCU has a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 (Carbon Neutrality by 2025 Plan) - and publishes periodic progress reports: Progress Report (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS®)) -
WCASD - The WCASD conducted an energy assessment of its facilities in or around 2010 as shown in sustainability presentation.
The school district’s current annual energy usage is presented in the table below. The high schools require the most energy, the middle schools less, and the elementary schools the least. The energy usage and energy usage per student of Penn Wood Elementary School appears to be uncharacteristically high for an elementary school. In addition, the proportion of electricity used for air conditioning in summer appears to be greater than in the other schools. Penn Wood might be the first place to look for energy savings.
Westtown School - The Westtown School has an active program to reduce energy usage and GHG emissions as shown in an example below. Energy usage figures have been requested from the school and will be placed in a table when received.
West Chester Christian School - Energy usage figures have been requested from the school and will be placed in a table when received.
Chesterbrook Academy - Energy usage figures have been requested from the school and will be placed in a table when received.
Saints Peter and Paul School - Energy usage figures have been requested from the school and will be placed in a table when received.
Goddard School (pre-K) - no indication that have set any goals or taken any action for their facility, but there is a news story about Goddard Schools celebrating Earth Week with their students in 2020.
As your purchasing agent knows, the electricity supplied to our local grid is a mix of electricity generated by various fuels.
The default energy mix provided by PECO looks like this:
Electric utility energy mix data is from the EPA Power Profiler page. As you can see, almost 93% of our electricity comes from nuclear, coal and gas methane sources! The “7% other” consists of small amounts (2% or less) of hydro, wind, solar, biomass, oil geothermal and other fossil fuels.
Showcasing The Achievements of West Chester University
WCU has certainly set the most aggressive goals (carbon neutral by 2025) and taken the boldest actions of any education or nonprofit institution on the region. Here are some of the highlights. Read the details on the WCU Plan For Carbon Neutrality page.
Building Energy Reduction
The campus operations have reduced their energy use profile by 7.3% during the six year period from 2012 to 2018. In the same period, the gross floor space increased by 14% (more than 570,000 sq ft increase). This was achieved largely through improved climate control procedures and the expansion of the campus geothermal network which now connects to 12 buildings on campus. The geothermal HVAC system not only improves efficiency (heating/cooling with less energy) it also transitions from gas or oil burning for heat to electric grid sourced energy.
Vehicle energy used on campus is a complex map of 90 campus fleet vehicles, xx resident student vehicles, xx commuting student vehicles, xx faculty and staff vehicles. WCU has instituted several programs to reduce GHG emissions due to vehicles on campus, including:
converting of campus fleet to CNG and biodiesel fuel
shuttle bus service to Exton Train Station, on campus and Uptown
organizing rideshare & carpool parking areas
bicycle use pledge program and fix-it stations
SEPTA ticket sales on campus
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Explore this page to learn about the challenges and opportunities for small business members of our community to start on our path towards:
Transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
assisting your employees to do the same as you steer your services toward this future.
The most cost-effective strategy is to REDUCE, ELECTRIFY and TRANSITION to clean renewable energy in our businesses. Reducing our energy use is the place to start and is where our biggest opportunities can be found for taking actions that pay for themselves. More than 50% of commercial energy use is already electricity so there is a great opportunity to reduce and transition to renewable energy sources right away!
The relative size of the arrows above imply that the more we Reduce, the less we need to Electrify and Transition. Not necessarily a flowchart, we can work on all at the same time.
Teaming with your school families
Energy Reduction Resources
Maintain energy benchmarking and a GHG emissions inventory and use these tools to make decisions on emission reductions
Ever wonder if your profit is reduced by inefficient use of energy? Here is a form from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) which can help you answer this question: Energy Audit Data Collection Form. It is a no-nonsense way of organizing your data so that you can see how to reduce your energy bill yourself. And if you’re encouraged by your own results, you may want to go to this PECO website and look at the three successively more detailed energy assessments that PECO offers, not to mention the offers of instant product discounts and financial incentives on a variety of energy efficient equipment and projects. And while we are on the subject of our electric utility, PECO also offers detailed advice on much of the energy-intensive equipment in commercial and industrial facilities.
Maximize efficiency of heating and lighting
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, provides information and guidance on how to reduce the energy use and the cost of heating and lighting your building, whether you are a large corporation or a small business. It provides essential information on how to heat and light your building more efficiently.
E Source has identified immediate and longer term ways to reduce energy usage in buildings:
Turn off computers, printers, and copiers when not in use for substantial periods of time.
Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
Install programmable thermostats.
Turn off electric water heaters during periods when building not in use.
Install sensors that turn off or dim lights when area not in use
Install pool covers when pools is not in use to reduce the energy needed to heat the water and to dehumidify the air in the pool room.
Periodically inspect all doors and windows and apply caulking and weather stripping to maintain tight seals.
Retain a licensed technician on a quarterly basis to inspect the air conditioning system, fans, filters, condenser coils and hot water system for optimum settings, worn-out parts and filters, and possible leaks.
Upgrade lighting with high-performance T8 fluorescent lamps and/or T8 LED light bulbs..
Periodically conduct a recommissioning of the school to return the energy using equipment and document the process.
Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA: Pictured below is the college’s High Street Residence Hall, the first LEED Platinum–certified building associated with an institution of higher education in Pennsylvania, which reduces energy significantly. The college has further reduced its GHG emissions by 35 percent with help from a renewable-power purchasing agreement, a three-megawatt solar system, and an LED retrofit. It is now generating electricity from cafeteria food waste and a small livestock operation for a neighboring dairy farm.
Electrify – Electrify refers to changing your energy sources from combustion-based sources (gas, coal, oil) to electricity. Phasing out fossil-fuel based appliances is an important step in the transition to a cleaner future, especially as renewables make up a larger and larger portion of our grid’s energy mix.
Geothermal heat pumps: West Chester University has undertaken many sustainability projects, but the most high profile project has been the installation of a geothermal heating system for many buildings on campus and the retirement of the fossil fuel boiler that is no longer needed. This map shows the stages of this conversion and pictures of the construction of the geothermal system.
Transition – Transitioning our energy generation away from fossil fuels (both individually and as a society) is critical to securing a clean and sustainable future. “Transition” goes hand in hand with “Electrify” - if we can electrify our energy needs and transition our supplies to renewable sources, we will complete a circle of energy sustainability. There are three ways that you can do it:
Westtown School produces and conserves energy:
Alternative Energy: Westtown has:
Installed a 44 kW solar array on the Athletic Center.
Installed geothermal heating and cooling in eight facility buildings.
Installed solar hot water in the LEED Gold science building.
Bought Renewable Energy Credits for 100% of its electricity purchases.
Conservation: Since 2007 Westtown has:
Cut campus electricity use by 18%
Reduced carbon emissions from heating, cooling, and electricity by 60%
Saved $500,000 on energy that was plowed back into educational programs
Install solar arrays on site
Rooftop Solar: Rooftop solar is a great way to lock-in your electricity price for the next 20 years.
Enter into a long-term power purchase agreement for renewable energy
Increasingly, electricity users are purchasing their electricity from electricity generators rather than from the electricity distribution company. This shift in purchasing has been brought on by the deregulation of the electricity industry. As part of this shift, some corporations are choosing to purchase electricity from solar and wind sources of electricity and, in addition, to use the PPA to facilitate the construction of new solar and wind projects. When a school can guarantee the purchase of a solar facility’s electricity for a 15 or 20 year period, this enables the solar facility builders to obtain favorable loans to construct the project.
Purchase renewable energy credits
A third option for transitioning to clean energy is to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) with your electricity; one REC for each megawatt-hour of electricity. This entitles you to claim that the electricity that you are buying is from a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind. And it encourages the construction of additional renewable energy. It is advisable to work through an established energy broker, who will get you the best price based on competitive bidding and will stay aware of when your energy contract is ending to avoid any unexpected increases in the rates.
Preparing your Students for the Future
The world that our schools’ students will live in will be very different from previous generations. The social and technological challenges will be immense. What are we doing to prepare these students for this future? We need to provide:
A good scientific understanding of the dynamics of climate and climate change
The science and engineering needed to convert our economy away from fossil fuels
An understanding of natural processes so that we can make our planet biologically sustainable
An understanding of international relations to appreciate the skills needed to collaborate with people of other lands to solve world problems.
Teaming with Your School Families