Energy Management Program

Reducing energy consumption lowers our carbon footprint and reduces operating costs.

FCPS Named an Energy Star® Partner of the Year: Sustained Excellence for 2022

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has received the 2022 Energy Star® Partner of the Year for Sustained Excellence for its continued efforts to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings and facilities.

One of the primary goals of the Department of Facilities and Transportation Services is to do everything possible to reduce operating and other support costs in order to allow the School Board and the Superintendent to devote resources to our primary mission - instruction. Our Energy Management Program is a part of this overall strategy.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) spends about $42,000,000 annually on its electric, oil, gas and water utilities. The Office of Facilities Management is tasked to keep this bill as low as possible through development and implementation of conservation programs. FCPS has had an active and aggressive energy management program since 1978, and is a leader among school systems in Virginia and nationwide in minimizing the use and cost of energy.

Historically managing energy has been about providing comfort and lighting in our classrooms and offices while containing costs. The need to control greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants resulting from energy use has become increasingly important as our understanding of climate change and its potential ramifications has advanced. On November 7, 2008, the FCPS School Board adopted Policy 8542 - Environmental Stewardship.

Energy conservation remains the best proven and immediate way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing energy consumption lowers our carbon footprint and reduces operating costs as well, freeing up money that can be better spent educating our children rather than purchasing electricity and gas. For this reason, the FCPS Energy Management Section focuses on energy conservation.

Policy and Regulations Related to Energy Use

The world's leading scientists agree that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are a significant contributor to global warming and that reducing those emissions is one of the most significant challenges confronting the world today. Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to continuing to take innovative and cost-effective steps to help our country achieve climate stabilization. This policy is intended to prioritize the practices to be developed and implemented by staff members in order to address global warming and to meet other important environmental stewardship initiatives. We are also committed to educating students and staff members in environmental stewardship responsibilities, and to encouraging them to use their critical-thinking skills and communication skills to debate the appropriate measures we need to take in order to be responsible stewards of our environment.

Energy Management Control Systems

The Energy Management Section at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) operates about 240 computerized Energy Management Systems (EMS). By controlling when and how heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems operate, these systems save millions of dollars a year by reducing our energy consumption. FCPS has been installing and operating EMS in our buildings since 1978. 

Utility Management

With an annual energy bill exceeding $42 million, the Energy Management Section negotiates energy supply contracts and monitors utility bills.

Programs Included

Utility Tracking and Auditing: Using our Energy Watchdog software, every year we monitor over ten thousand utility bills at 239 locations. Our staff provides billing data analysis looking for and correcting anomalies in usage and billing errors.

EPA Energy Star - Building Benchmarking System: Over 190 FCPS buildings are benchmarked against a national database and monitored monthly. We use the EPA Energy Star System to guide and prioritize our conservation efforts.

Fuel Oil Inventory Management System: Fuel oil is used to heat some schools. This web based reporting and ordering system is used to track our inventory and order oil deliveries.

Water Usage Monitoring: Like energy use, we track water bills looking for costly anomalies in usage and billing errors.

Water Sub-Metering: We have installed sub-meters on all cooling towers and athletic field irrigation systems to eliminate sewer charges on water bills.

Electricity Supply Portfolio Management: Staff has membership on the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association (VEPGA) board and the NOVEC customer group. These associations negotiate electricity power supply contracts. Membership in these associations has saved millions of dollars for FCPS by securing reduced electricity rates.

Staff Actively Participates: In the Fairfax County Energy Efficiency and Conservation Coordinating Committee along with 17 other Fairfax County departments and agencies.

Natural Gas Supply Portfolio Management: Staff strategically purchases gas supplies based on market price fluctuations. Locking in future gas supply prices when prices are low is expected to reduce gas costs by at least one million dollars per year over the next two years.

Energy Engineering

Project Design, Project Management and Energy Audit

The Energy Management Section engineering team evaluates energy consumption data, and is constantly looking for new ways to reduce energy use.

Rapidly evolving computerized energy management system technology is continuously opening up new methods to reduce consumption. Our engineers keep construction specifications up-to-date with the latest technology. Our mechanical engineering team designs new systems, replaces antiquated technology, and upgrades existing systems in order to extend their life.

Building Energy Audits: Facilities are audited by mechanical engineers who look for potential improvements in energy use; developing and implementing energy saving projects identified during the audits. Data is gathered from a variety of sources including utility bill databases, metering data, building bench marking, control system historical trends, interviews with building staff, and field observations. Projects are prioritized based on their potential financial payback and those with the best payback are implemented.

The Energy Management Section technical staff also provides in-house formal and informal training sessions to school-based custodians, school-based operating engineers, and HVAC maintenance technicians.

Sustainability and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Consumption of energy for transportation or in buildings for heating, air conditioning, ventilation, lighting, hot water, computers, and other plug loads produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the form of carbon dioxide. These emissions can result directly from burning fossil fuels. Gasoline or diesel fuel used in cars, buses and trucks release CO2 directly from the tailpipe as a product of combustion. Burning natural gas or fuel oil in a boiler or furnace for heating buildings, heating domestic hot water, or used for cooking in kitchen equipment also releases CO2 directly from the flue pipe as a product of combustion.

Using electricity also releases CO2 into the environment, but does so indirectly when fossil fuels are burned to generate the electricity. In Virginia, vast amounts of coal and natural gas are burned to generate electricity. These sources of CO2 are not at the same site as the electricity is consumed (i.e. school buildings), and can be hundreds of miles away. Some power generation sources like nuclear power, hydroelectric power, windmills, or solar photovoltaic do not create CO2 to generate electricity.

In Virginia, our electricity is generated using a mix of fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel energy sources as follows:

Fossil Fuel (CO2 Emissions)
Coal 27%
Natural Gas 24%
Oil 1%

Non-Fossil Fuel (No CO2 Emissions)
Nuclear 31%
Hydro-Power and Renewable 1%

The Office of Design and Construction designs all new and renovated buildings to the sustainability design standard of the Collaborative for High Performances Schools.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The world's leading scientists agree that human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are a significant contributor to global warming and that reducing those emissions is one of the most significant challenges confronting the world today