Global climate change is a serious threat, and many communities in Central Bucks are developing plans for local climate action. As a large energy consumer and the third largest district in Pennsylvania, Central Bucks School District has a responsibility to decrease its carbon footprint. In doing so, it has the potential to make a real impact, helping to ensure the futures of the students whose protection is its duty.
We believe it is of the utmost importance for community members to be informed about local energy usage, especially young people, whose futures this usage is directly impacting. Additionally, because the first step to progress is knowledge, we have compiled an energy usage assessment and recommendations for the three CBSD high schools to increase sustainability and save money on energy costs.
We collected data from several sources, assessed energy usage, school size, and enrollment for all three high schools, and found that CBSD has the ability to reduce energy use and save money.
Energy efficiency varies among schools, but all high schools heat with natural gas, and all use more than average. When evaluated with Energy Star Portfolio Manager, both CB East and CB West scored poorly (22/100 and less than 22/100, respectively), while CB South scored fair (66/100).
Due to these below-average ratings, we strongly recommend significant energy efficiency improvements, including better insulation for doors and windows, improvements to heat and hot water infrastructure, and investigation of electrification for heat and hot water production.
Many of these changes can be built into routine maintenance and construction and will save money by decreasing energy usage in the long run.
The district’s electricity is cost competitive ($0.06/kWh) and is provided by Engie NA, a company moving towards renewable energy. Because of the low energy cost, it would be fiscally and environmentally smart to consider electrifying the heat and hot water systems as these systems are due for replacement, as well as electrifying school buses, especially when one considers lower maintenance costs and available federal and state subsidies.
We write this letter hoping to increase awareness of CBSD’s energy usage and hope the community will stand with us and ask the school board to lead the way in creating a sustainable future.
Riley Smith is a senior at Central Bucks West and Doylestown resident. Jim Baldassarre chairs the Doylestown Township Environmental Advisory Council.