Claiborne Elementary School in Baton Rouge, LA, was the winner of the Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. It’s easy to see why the school came out a winner.

Louisiana Controls Inc., a Baton Rouge-based member of the InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance, completed upgrades to the school’s facility controls and energy management system (EMS) that helped the school to cut its energy use nearly in half, enabling it to win the competition. Teams from more than 3,000 buildings across the country spent the past year competing to obtain the greatest reduction in energy use and win the Battle of the Buildings.

Louisiana Controls provides facility controls systems, mechanical services, and energy management solutions for a variety of commercial customers. Like other members of InsideIQ, an international alliance of independent building automation contractors, Louisiana Controls aims to apply the latest technology to resolve customers’ building control and energy management challenges.

Completed in 2011 for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS), the 100,892-sq-ft Claiborne Elementary School replaced a much smaller 60-year-old facility of the same name and was designed to meet the requirements of the ASHRAE 90.1. The initially higher energy operating cost for the new facility was a major challenge for the school district, due to modern requirements for integrated technologies, lighting, ventilation, humidity control, and other construction codes for educational facilities. During the first year it operated, the new school’s energy costs were $2.07/sq ft, compared to a $1.59/sq-ft average for the old school during its final four years of operation.

Aramark is the energy management partner to the EBRPSS and works closely with Louisiana Controls, one of the school district’s three facility controls and EMS partners, to support more than a dozen systems Louisiana Controls has installed for the school district. Louisiana Controls implemented the EMS specified for the new Claiborne School, which included HVAC equipment controls and energy management functions.

During the post-construction warranty period, which was the first year of occupancy, Aramark energy managers worked with the school’s principal and administration staff to schedule and operate the facility as efficiently as possible, while maintaining required comfort conditions. Louisiana Controls provided technical support for training and system evaluation of the operation of the new EMS, as well as troubleshooting and warranty repairs.

“Once the warranty period expired, Aramark energy managers collaborated with Louisiana Controls to develop and implement specific modifications and refinements to the facility control sequences and energy management functions,” said Tommy Reed, president and general manager of Louisiana Controls. “Some of these included changes to ventilation control strategies to more closely match delivered fresh air ventilation volumes to the actual needs of occupied spaces, as well as the addition of discharge air temperature reset control during periods of normal humidity levels.”

Frank Rotello, president of the InsideIQ Building Automation, said members like Louisiana Controls are experts at helping facility operators, such as school districts, to achieve greater energy efficiency.

“In this case, taking advantage of the EMS’s capability to analyze, trend, and quantify control functions and system operation contributed to energy savings, as did the technical expertise of Louisiana Controls to effectively implement the original construction specifications,” he said. “Additional modifications and refinements to the EMS, such as adding demand-controlled ventilation and discharge air temperature reset, further improved efficiency.”

The final result of all these efforts was a 46% reduction in energy use at the Claiborne campus, culminating in the Battle of the Buildings award for overall energy use reduction. Annual energy operating costs at Claiborne fell from $2.07/sq ft in 2012 to $1.32/sq ft in 2013, an improvement over the first year operations and well below the per square foot cost of the old school facility.

 Teams representing more than 25 different types of commercial buildings faced off in the fourth annual Energy Star National Building Competition, which motivates building owners and occupants to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution and save money. Competitors tracked their buildings’ monthly energy consumption using the EPA’s online energy tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Nearly 50 buildings demonstrated energy use reductions of 20% or greater in a single year. Together, competitors saved more than $20 million and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 130,000 metric tons — equal to the annual electricity use of nearly 18,000 homes.