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“Improving the quality of student learning” and “strengthening the working conditions, resources, and autonomy of schools” are among the principal goals of Portugal’s Ministry of Education and Science. So when energy costs increased dramatically following an extensive infrastructure modernization at its public high schools country-wide, it knew something had to be done to control the schools’ energy use.
The energy use increase was not completely unexpected: new climate control systems and more information and communication technologies (ICT) were installed during the upgrades, including PCs, IP phones, and networking devices. To identify and test solutions to the problem, the Ministry joined Connected Urban Development’s (CUD) Smart UrbanEnergy for Schools program. As a result, Schneider Electric™ and members of its EcoStruxure Technology Partnership Program, Cisco Systems and Verdiem, and the local electric utility collaborated to implement a cost-effective follow-on energy reduction solution while creating safe and comfortable learning environments.
EnergySTEP@Work™ brings energy online for visibility and controlA unique solution was piloted at three schools in capital city Lisbon: Schneider Electric EnergySTEP@Work™. This comprehensive ICT energy management program consolidated all relevant sources of energy consumption via a single, unified IP network-based approach. This enables real-time energy monitoring and management of PCs and Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) devices, which is compatible with existing building management systems for HVAC and lighting, to bring 100 percent of energy consumed under management. The solution is enabled by Cisco EnergyWise™ — capable Cataylst switches, and enhanced with Verdiem Surveyor™ software.
EnergySTEP@Work tackles energy consumed in the large number of small, disparate plug loads and IT assets. Surprisingly, these can amount to 20 to 40 percent of energy consumed within an organization, especially those with numerous PCs and personal productivity devices. Valuable energy, that was formerly unmonitored and unmanaged at the Lisbon schools, became visible, controllable, and optimized.
In all three Lisbon pilot schools, network-managed energy savings consists of scheduling operations of HVAC, lighting, and ICT equipment to coincide with the schools’ occupancy, even with device groupings and scheduling varying among the 10 school buildings. For example, most of the phones can be shut off at night while emergency phones remain active. Central lighting and HVAC systems can be powered down after hours when the schools are unoccupied. Web 2.0 tools and interactive displays with real-time data, benchmarks, and carbon footprint calculators encourage greater sustainability awareness among the school population and community.
Results make an impact on energy consumption — and on studentsSuccessful energy reductions at the pilot schools provided significant cost savings that have been applied to capital improvements, teacher trainings, and other Ministry of Education mission-driven initiatives. In fact, the centralized control policies for ICT, lighting, and HVAC at one school yielded a 25 percent reduction in energy use, a savings of approximately $13,200 (USD) per year. If similar solutions were applied at all schools, estimated savings would reach nearly $4 million annually!
EnergySTEP@Work also provided on-site learning opportunities. Students acted as testers and evaluators and also took part in end-to-end solution deployment and configuration, which served as the basis of their final year degree project. And it turns out the results may be even longer-lasting: many students have changed their energy use behaviors and how they think about the future, predisposing them to careers in environmental science.