Lockport Township High School

Fast Facts

Industry: Education
Location: Lockport, IL
Program: PJM Emergency Load Response Program (ELRP)
DR Strategy: Curtailment only
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Temporary temperature and lighting adjustments in the auditorium, field house, and classrooms
Annual Payments: Approximately $19,000

The Big Picture

Lockport Township High School (LTHS) is one of the largest secondary schools in the Chicago, Illinois area, with nearly 4,000 students and almost 750,000 square-feet of educational buildings. For the last decade, innovative facilities personnel at the school have been working to make the school as efficient, cost-effective, and green as possible— while earning awards and inspiring other schools.

In 2009, LTHS enrolled in EnerNOC demand response (DR), a program that fit seamlessly into its overall efforts to manage energy better. “We had already been doing our own in-house version of demand response since 1999, using curtailment to flatten our peaks by lowering the demand charges on our electric bill,” recalls Bill Thompson, director of facilities management. “With EnerNOC demand response, we took our reduction efforts to another level—and get paid for our efforts.”

During demand response dispatches, Thompson and his team make adjustments to the temperature and lighting of large, but sparsely used facilities, including its field house and auditorium. They also raise temperature setpoints on the 900-ton chiller that cools the school. These changes enable the school to lower its energy use temporarily by 600 kilowatts (kW), and earn annual payments of approximately $19,000 from EnerNOC. These funds help fuel other energy efficiency efforts at the school, which continues to innovate and conserve.

A High School with a Higher Purpose

Lockport Township High School is on a mission. The goal? To reduce energy use, maximize energy efficiency, cut costs, reduce waste, and ensure that the school is green in every way—from how it manages electricity, uses water, cleans its facilities, and more. The man behind this effort, which began in 1999, is Bill Thompson, director of facilities management. “We have to be good stewards of all our resources,” he says. “We want to operate efficiently and keep our students healthy.”

The school’s commitment to efficiency is strong and longstanding. “Electricity is our second largest expense after personnel, and we use about 5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year,” he says. “As a taxpayer-supported institution, we feel an obligation to reduce our costs as much as we can.” Via careful energy procurement, conservation, and other energy efficiency efforts, the school has continually reduced its consumption—and saved more than $1.3 million in the past decade.

The core element of the school’s efforts is its wide-reaching Energy Conservation Program, which includes:

  • Wholesale natural gas procurement
  • Daily tracking of energy and water use
  • Careful monitoring and adjustments of chiller (HVAC) water and hot water setpoints
  • Variable-speed cooling tower fans
  • Lighting retrofits and adjustments (e.g., occupancy sensors)
  • Air filtration

These initiatives and more earned the school an ENERGY STAR® certification in 2003—making it one of a handful of schools in Illinois to achieve this high mark for excellence in energy performance.

The addition of EnerNOC energy intelligence software (EIS) and enrollment in ELRP in 2009 was a natural fit with the school’s commitment to managing energy more efficiently, according to Thompson. And EnerNOC was the clear choice for a demand response partner. “We chose EnerNOC because the payments are far more than those offered by other DR providers,” says Thompson. “And we knew that we could deliver the reduction that we promised.”

Thompson worked closely with EnerNOC to create a clear energy reduction plan that highlights the steps that the school needs to take to reduce energy use temporarily. During demand response dispatches, Thompson makes minor adjustments to the air handling, temperature, and lighting in the school’s auditorium and field house—while leaving most of the school unaffected. Any adjustments to the chiller setpoint in the main school generally go unnoticed by students who may remain in the classrooms after school.

EnerNOC worked closely with Thompson and his team to integrate EnerNOC's software with the school’s Tridium building automation system. Changes can be initiated centrally, allowing the school to respond quickly and easily to demand response dispatches.

“The changes we make during EnerNOC demand response dispatches don’t really affect out students or staff,” says Thompson. “So we’re able to participate in DR without much impact on the school. For example, if students are playing a sport, they’re on the playing fields, not in the field house. Making minor, temporary changes to these non-core facilities makes real sense.”

The Results

During DR dispatches, EnerNOC alerts Thompson and his team by phone and email, and they make the necessary changes in minutes, via the school’s building automation system. By making temporary adjustments in its field house and auditorium, Lockport Township High School is able to cut its energy use in half, from 1,200 kW to 600 kW. These temporary reductions earn the school approximately $19,000 in annual payments from EnerNOC—funds that help pay for new energy-reducing efforts.

At first, the school committed to a 400 kW reduction, and over-performed during initial testing. “Our DR testing went great,” says Thompson. “And we found we could definitely lower energy use even more— without affecting core classrooms or overall comfort levels.”

The Benefits

Lockport Township High School’s decision to implement EnerNOC DR is as much about commitment to its students and mission as it is about payments. “It’s our duty as caretakers of our facilities to provide a safe, clean, healthy environment for our students and staff,” says Thompson. “I truly believe that we can each make a difference in our schools, one that has a measurable outcome that creates a positive impact for our students and staff.” Part of that measurable outcome includes the much-appreciated payments of $19,000 a year, but the benefits that EnerNOC DR brings to the school also include:

An Opportunity to Expand Its Sustainability Efforts

Lockport Township High School is one of the most innovative and green schools in the state of Illinois. By expanding the best practices of its Energy Conservation Program to include EnerNOC, the school is taking advantage of the knowledge it has already gained by monitoring its energy use over the years. Now it can leverage this knowledge to reduce energy use temporarily and earn payments that aid its program even more.

Simple Enrollment and Implementation

Thompson emphasizes how simple it was for the school to participate in EnerNOC DR, from enrollment to implementation to testing. “From the time when we signed up for the program to the time that EnerNOC installed their energy intelligence software, the whole process was quick and seamless,” he says. “It’s been a very positive relationship. And we had a very hands-on EnerNOC project manager who answered all our questions.”

No Risk

Most EnerNOC DR dispatches tend to occur during the peak energy-intensive months of the summer and early fall. “EnerNOC DR is a nice fit for us, says Thompson. “The timing is perfect. Most dispatches happen during a time of year when we don’t have many people using our facilities. And since our school day starts early and end in the early afternoon, dispatches often happen after the students are gone.”

An Inspiration for Other Schools

Thompson speaks at conferences and other events, where he highlights the school’s Energy Conservation Program and EnerNOC DR. “Traditionally, schools might initially be scared of demand response, since they don’t want to do anything to interrupt education,” he says. “But when you look at EnerNOC DR, you realize that it’s a really good fit for high schools. The timing is right. And you can reduce without affecting students. We’ve proven it. And I think more and more high schools are getting on board.”

The Future

Despite its significant investment in energy reduction, Thompson sees his school’s efforts as ongoing. “There’s always something else you can do to improve your energy use,” he concludes. Upcoming projects include a lighting retrofit and other energy-saving changes to its pool—a project partially funded by the school’s EnerNOC payments.