Leaders at St. Lucie County School District in Fort Pierce, FL, expect new infrastructure upgrades to save $5 million a year, cutting energy costs 30 to 40%. Previously ranked 60th out of the 67 Florida school districts listed by county and ranked for energy usage, St. Lucie County is now ranked 18th.
The district reduced annual utility costs from more than $12 million to less than $7 million.
In recognition of the district’s commitment to energy and operational efficiency and sustainability, Trane is presenting the district with the “Energy Efficiency Leader Award.” Fernando Lagomasino, Florida district general manager for Trane, will present the award to Sean Murray, energy manager for St. Lucie County School District.
“These upgrades improved the teaching and learning environment while generating drastic savings for the district,” said Sean Murray, energy manager for St. Lucie County School District. “The reduction in costs saved the equivalent of 100 teachers’ jobs.”
Prior to implementing the upgrades, the school district created an energy advisory board to evaluate options for replacing its aging and outdated air-cooled chillers. They selected a chiller plant upgrade with thermal energy storage to provide reliable, cost-effective cooling using energy savings and utility rebates to offset the cost of the chiller investment.
Leaders selected Centennial High School as the first site for a chiller plant upgrade with thermal energy storage and the solution generated significant results. The improvements reduced the high school’s annual electric bill by almost 40%. St. Lucie County School District includes approximately 40,000 students enrolled at 45 K-12 schools.
Based on these results, St. Lucie County School District moved forward with plans to upgrade 13 district locations serving 15 schools. The improved chiller plants run at cooler temperatures to provide better dehumidification ─ important in the humid Florida environment ─ and operate more efficiently with less pumping and fewer fans.
The district selected CALMAC® IceBank® energy storage tanks for the chiller plants due to its superior design, low maintenance and long life. Technician training and support was incorporated into each equipment purchase to ensure that the systems would keep running at optimum performance. The ice-enhanced water- and air-cooled chiller plants build ice at night during off-peak hours when the cooling and power load is low, allowing the schools to take advantage of lower-cost electricity rates.
The district replaced chiller plants located at three schools in close proximity to each other with a centralized chiller plant built between them. The plant, which includes more than two miles of underground piping to connect the schools to the plant, allowed the district to reduce chiller capacity and remove 300 tons of capacity by centralizing the plants.
The district installed the chiller plant during the summer to avoid interrupting school operations with piping and interconnections completed after school start-up on weekends and holidays.