Energizing Fort Atkinson’s schools from the sun and earth
From a case study of energy installations at Fort Atkinson schools by Michael Vickerman:
By Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
As a result of educating themselves on the connection between energy use and atmospheric pollution, several school districts in Wisconsin are taking increasingly aggressive steps to conserve energy as well as produce a portion of what they use on-site. Some have embraced ground source heat pump systems (Fond du Lac High School), while others have installed solar hot water systems (Osceola Middle School) and solar electric systems (Paul Olson elementary school in Madison). Not to be outdone, Wausau East High School recently installed a 100 kilowatt (kW) Northwind turbine, which is now the largest wind generator attached to a school building in Wisconsin.
Yet if one measures success by substantial reductions in energy expenditures and emissions reductions, there is one school district in Wisconsin that stands head and shoulders above its peers: Fort Atkinson. Serving 2,700 school-age children in a community of 12,000, the Fort Atkinson School District operates six buildings: four elementary schools, one middle school and a high school. School officials have made no secret of their aspiration to make Fort Atkinson the most energy-efficient and self-sufficient K-12 district in the state.
Since 2005, Fort Atkinson has rigorously pursued a sustainable energy agenda that integrates, in a systematic and complementary fashion, continuous monitoring of consumption, aggressive building efficiency measures, and renewable energy capture. As articulated in its 2009 energy plan, the district’s principal goals for 2010 are nothing if not ambitious:
+ Pare energy costs by 20% from 2005 levels;
+ Lower carbon emissions by 25% from 2005 levels;
+ Obtain EnergyStar certification for all six schools; and
+ Install on-site renewable production at all six schools.