Ferris (Texas) independent school district recently completed renovations aimed at increasing energy efficiency while creating a high-performance learning environment at Ferris Junior High School, Ferris Intermediate School, the Ingram and McDonald Elementary Schools and the district maintenance facility. Additionally, the district built a new high-performance high school to accommodate the district’s growing student population. The renovations and new facility make the district one of the most energy efficient in Texas.

To recognize these upgrades, the district earned the Trane Energy Efficiency Leader in Education Award for its sustainable energy and operational efficiency building designs and practices.

Ferris Junior High School, built in 1985, and Ingram Elementary, built in 1972, represent the district’s oldest facilities. Some classrooms were below Illuminating Engineering Society standards for light levels in classroom spaces. Ferris Junior High School served as the district’s high school until the renovations and new building were completed.

Outdated and inefficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment (HVAC) resulted in high energy usage, excessive maintenance costs and unreliable operation. Furthermore, the HVAC systems in these schools lacked programmability, allowing limited or uncontrolled building operations for temperatures and ventilation.

Specific green upgrades included replacing the HVAC systems with new high-efficiency systems at Ingram Elementary and the Intermediate School as well as district-wide lighting and plumbing renovations. All district facilities are now controlled by a district-wide building automation system providing the ability to monitor and control each facility from one central location.

The HVAC upgrades provided as much as a 46 percent increase in efficiency in some buildings, and lighting efficiency improved as much as 60 percent in some areas. Overall, the project will reduce the district’s utility usage by more than 22 percent annually.

The Ferris Independent School District earned a $15,000 rebate through a local electric utility company for the improvements they have implemented. The district also entered into a long-term service agreement with Trane to continually evaluate and improve the district’s school facilities annually to ensure maximum energy savings are achieved, setting an example for electrical contractors who have the capability to enter into such an agreement.

Energy and operating cost savings notwithstanding, the district is achieving compliance with Texas State Senate Bills 5 and 12 to reduce energy usage by 5 percent per year for six years.