Facilities Energy Team
SPPS Facilities Energy Team
Saint Paul Public Schools is committed to minimizing our environmental impact and saving money through energy efficiency projects and practices.
St Paul Public Schools has an Energy Team, which is a committee of Facilities Department professionals. The mission of the Energy Team is to champion the implementation of sustainable energy practices district-wide while providing and maintaining quality physical environments that enhance and support the education of our students in an equitable manner. In 2016, a Revolving Energy Efficiency Fund (REEF) was established to pay for the implementation of energy efficient projects. Energy cost savings from those projects are put back into the fund to create a revolving funding cycle. The Energy Team has planned and implemented numerous energy efficiency upgrades, including lighting retrofits, installing high efficiency motors and variable frequency drives, steam trap replacement work, and boiler plant upgrades. Many of these projects were funded by the REEF.
Facilities Energy Team Past Projects
Steam Trap Survey and Replacement
In 2015, the district realized that the high failure rate of steam traps located in over half of the schools at SPPS needed to be addressed. An in-house pipefitting crew was formed to replace all steam traps in schools with especially high natural gas use and a high incidence of trap failures. This work has proven to be a cost-effective way to save energy and prolong equipment service life. The program was expanded to include the replacement of faulty thermostats and control valves, which also directly affect the efficiency and functionality of a heating system. Since the program began, the steam traps have been replaced in 18 buildings, totaling 2,400 traps.
LED Lighting Retrofits
Replacing inefficient lighting with LED lighting has been a high priority for SPPS. The exterior lighting at 31 schools has been retrofitted to LED. SPPS has experienced numerous benefits from this work, including better visibility, reduced maintenance costs, and improved safety and security. SPPS has also undertaken a number of interior LED lighting retrofits in larger high-use spaces such as gymnasiums, commons areas, rec centers, and pools. In 2018, SPPS began the process of systematically replacing 4-foot T8 fluorescent lamps with LED lamps. LED plug-n-play lamps were installed in every classroom, office, and hallway of schools. Not only does this lead to energy savings, but also reduced maintenance costs and improved lighting levels. SPPS will continue to convert a few buildings each year from T8 to LED lighting.
Revolving Energy Efficiency Fund (REEF)
SPPS pays for some energy efficiency projects with an internal revolving energy efficiency fund. The fund is managed by SPPS and carries over from fiscal years to provide capital for projects that reduce operational costs and environmental impact. The savings are tracked and used to replenish the fund for the next round of energy efficiency investments, thus establishing a sustainable funding cycle.
Any time an energy efficiency project is undertaken, SPPS leverages Xcel Energy's rebate program. When equipment such as lights, steam traps, motors, variable frequency drives, boilers, water heaters, etc are replaced, we apply for and receive rebates from Xcel Energy. In 2019, SPPS’s accumulated rebates from Xcel Energy totaled over $2 million since the start of the rebate program.