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DOE Announces Energy Assistance for New Orleans Public Schools

August 8, 2007 - 3:16pm


DOE Encourages Rebuilding Effort's Focus on Efficiency

NEW ORLEANS, LA - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE's EnergySmart Schools Program will commit up to $1.5 million in technical assistance to provide as many as 75 comprehensive energy audits in public schools throughout the New Orleans area, identifying up to 25 percent in potential energy savings.  Audits will include analysis of heating and cooling systems, lighting, and structural elements, such as roofing and building envelope assessments.  In support of energy efficient rebuilding in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, these comprehensive audits will lay out opportunities for New Orleans' public schools to save up to $1 million annually on utility bills.

"The Department of Energy is eager to provide assistance to New Orleans' schools to promote efficiency with safe, cost-effective and durable technologies," Secretary Bodman said.  "President Bush has called on all Americans to be more energy efficient.  Improvements made in New Orleans' schools will impact how America's next generation views and uses energy."

Secretary Bodman made today's announcement while visiting the Pierre A. Capdau Charter School in New Orleans.  P.A. Capdau was one of the first schools in the recovery area to receive a comprehensive energy audit last week; the first round of audits was completed last week by a team of DOE experts.  With support from DOE, the Entergy Corporation and others, P.A. Capdau is also one of many local schools vying to install 25-kilowatt (kW) solar panel systems.  These installations are expected to offset a sizable portion of schools' energy consumption, saving each school roughly $4,000 annually on utility bills.

Identifying energy efficiency improvements through an energy audit is the first step in energy efficient retrofits in existing buildings.  These comprehensive audits will identify high priority upgrades achievable with minimal up front costs and a return on investment in approximately 3-5 years.  DOE will also assist in the design of new schools that are 30 percent more efficient than current building codes.  EnergySmart schools can be constructed and operated on a cost-neutral basis where the energy savings offsets any upfront costs.

Energy is often the second-largest cost of school operations, after personnel.  Because schools serve as community centers, energy efficient schools can be role models for redeveloping and developing communities.  Additionally, high-efficiency schools will serve as hands-on learning laboratories for students.

Secretary Bodman also announced the upcoming release of The Advanced Energy Design Guide for K-12 School Buildings, a collaboration between DOE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (also known as "ASHRAE"), the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.  The Guide focuses specifically on guidelines for those designing and building energy efficient schools, which would achieve at least 30 percent energy savings above typical building codes.  The Guide recommends practical, integrated solutions using currently available, off-the-shelf technologies that result in minimal upfront costs.  The technical recommendations developed for the design guide have been provided to the New Orleans Recovery School District to aid in their planning and design efforts.

While at P.A. Capdau School, Secretary Bodman also recognized the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and its Executive Director Andy Kopplin for the organization's efforts to make energy efficiency a top priority in the rebuilding effort.  As the planning and coordinating body for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, LRA has exemplified leadership in energy efficiency.  In December 2005, Louisiana adopted the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code to ensure its citizens realize the benefits of energy efficiency in new residential buildings.  LRA has worked diligently to streamline implementation of the new building codes.  LRA has also taken steps, through its "Louisiana Speaks" Program, to ensure that efficient and durable rebuilding honors the region's unique culture and architecture.

DOE's EnergySmart Schools Program focuses on promoting energy efficiency in new and existing K-12 facilities; reducing energy use and costs; improving the learning environment, educating school personnel about planning, financing and operating energy-efficient, high-performance buildings; and providing technical guidance and training to building industry professionals and develop media materials and case studies about existing schools.  Read more information on DOE's EnergySmart Schools Program.

Media contact(s):

Julie Lynn Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940