Boulder Valley School District

Bond-funded efforts to increase energy efficiency yield impressive results

Randy Barber

Guided by the Sustainable Energy Plan and fueled with bond dollars, new construction and renovation projects of the Building for Student Success program are significantly reducing energy use in the district. Projects completed thus far are yielding an average of 34 percent energy efficiency improvement. This boost in efficiency equates to cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint for the district.

“The energy efficiency work we are doing in the Bond program is important because the cost of doing nothing is too great. Work we do now will impact utility costs for decades. Dollars saved can be used for more important things in the district,” BVSD Energy Project Manager Jeff Medwetz explained.

To date, BVSD has earned nearly $500,000 in rebates from Xcel Energy. Predicted utility savings for just six of the projects that have been analyzed is $170,000.

BVSD has ambitious energy goals to reduce overall use by 20 percent by 2020 and to be net zero energy capable by 2050. Net zero energy buildings produce as much energy through renewable sources as they consume. New buildings opened this year, including Creekside, Douglass, Emerald, and Meadowlark, are on target to come close to this lofty goal. Creekside, Douglass, and Emerald are using about one-third or less energy than the buildings they replaced. Meadowlark is predicted to beat building code performance requirements by 50 percent. BVSD is exploring options for adding solar panels to the new schools.

Energy consultants were onboard from the beginning to ensure energy goals stayed a priority through the design of the new schools and major renovations. Numerous features throughout the buildings contribute to the impressive results. At Meadowlark, radiant in-floor heating and cooling warms/cools the people in the room rather than the air, boosting comfort and efficiency. At Douglass, solar chimneys make use of the updraft of rising warm air to draw fresh air in. All the new buildings make use of energy recovery systems to temper fresh air with exhausted air so heating and cooling systems have less work to do. Features such as large windows, ceiling fans, natural ventilation and adjustable lighting controls support energy efficiency and increase user comfort.

The consultants have stayed involved during the first year of operation after construction to monitor and adjust building systems. This has really paid off at Broomfield Heights Middle School where energy use during the first year was even better than predicted. The building reduced consumption by 40 percent compared to pre-construction performance. This is particularly impressive considering air conditioning was added to the building as well as more ventilation. An innovative chilled beam system at the school uses chilled water to cool the building and contributes significantly to the results. New windows and lighting, as well as major roof repair also add to the reduction.

“I’ve seen the transformative effect that a bond project can have on the culture and feel of a school,” Chris Meyer principal Broomfield Heights Middle School commented. “I saw it on the first day of school. When students and staff walked into the building you could see they felt comfortable and safe.”

Learn more about green building in the Building for Student Success program at


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