Current Sustainable Schools Applied Research Projects

Strategic Energy Management For School Board Portfolios Project – Phase 2  

Project timeline: February – November 2024

In 2022, during Phase 1 of the project, the Sustainable Schools team worked with 4 Ontario school boards to investigate the causes of material energy use increases and savings for several schools from each board. We analyzed monthly billing data, building automation systems, sub-metering and management practices that participating boards use to identify energy use variances in a timely manner and to initiate and verify appropriate action. We conducted a strategic energy management workshop with all four school boards and project partners/funders, and developed a best practices guidance report 

In 2024, as part of Phase 2 of the project, we will monitor savings and support results from implementation of the identified improvements. We will reengage the 4 Ontario school boards, update the analysis for their participating schools, and meet to discuss what has been implemented, what worked best and what challenges may have impacted implementation. We will release an updated guidance report and case studies to provide practical examples of implementation in schools. The project will conclude with a webinar to present the updated guidance report, project results and lessons learned.   

Technical and financial support provided by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, Setpoint Building Automation and QMC Metering Solutions. 

High-Efficiency Rooftop HVAC Unit Replacements Project – Phase 2  

Project timeline: March – November 2024

Working with 5 Ontario school boards throughout Phase 1 in 2022, the Sustainable Schools team evaluated the design, operational performance, and energy efficiency of several recently retrofitted schools. We reviewed energy and operating data from the selected schools before and after the recent HVAC project installation. System design, equipment selection, commissioning practices, and controls were documented for each school and correlated with performance outcomes to help identify best practices. A strategic workshop with the participating boards and project partners/funders was conducted at the end of the project. The research produced an evidence-based guidance document for use by school boards and their design consultants to help improve the design, equipment selection, BAS programming, and commissioning of future RTU replacement projects.  

In 2024, the second phase of the project will reengage the 5 Ontario school boards, bring their utility analysis up to date and identify savings or increases and trends since phase 1.  With input from the school boards, we will update the guidance report and produce case studies. The updated document, along with lessons learned, will be presented via webinar at the conclusion of the project. 

Technical and financial support provided by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, Enbridge, Carmichael Engineering and Kilmer Environmental. 

High performing air-source heat pumps application guide for K-12 schools 

Project timeline: November 2023September 2024
Project funding: IESO, Enbridge

As boards work towards low carbon and net zero emissions, they will require various tools to assist them in achieving their goals. Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) are one important contributor to the decarbonization of schools. The team at Sustainable Schools will evaluate the take up of ASHPs in the K-12 schools’ sector as well as what information and resources the boards need to evaluate their options and successfully adopt alternative approaches to conventional designs. 

Throughout the project the Sustainable Schools team will engage industry members, including  project sponsors Trane and Carrier, and survey school boards to gather information on the economics, operating factors and decision-making criteria associated with selection of ASHP instead of conventional HVAC systems. 

The research project will deliver a practical application guide to accelerate ASHP implementation and optimization in K-12 schools. Within the guide, we will address procurement, integration with other HVAC systems, controls and ongoing monitoring to document actual energy and emissions reductions. A webinar will be held to introduce the application guide and discuss findings with a panel of participating schools and ASHP providers and contractors.  

Sustainable Schools - An image of the interior of the school with children.