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FCPS Joins Green Schools Alliance District Collaborative

FCPS Saves $4.5 Million Through
Energy Conservation


Washington Post - Fairfax Joins Other Large School Systems in Environmental Alliance

Did you know


If every U.S. home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR® efficient light bulb, the amount of energy saved could light more than 3 million homes for a year and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions of about 800,000 cars. [?]


Traditional incandescent bulbs use 75% more energy than compact fluorescent bulbs [?]


Every year, more than $13 billion worth of energy leaks from houses through small holes and cracks. That’s more than $150 per family! [?]

Guidelines for Energy Conservation and Building Management


Every person is expected to become an “energy saver”.


All Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) employees are responsible for implementing the guidelines during the time that he/she is present in the classroom or office.


The custodian and/or operating engineer are responsible for implementing the guidelines in common areas, i.e. hallways, cafeterias, gymnasiums, lecture halls, etc.


Since the custodian is typically the last person to leave a facility in the evening, he/she is responsible for verification of the nighttime shutdown.


The principal, program manager, or their designee is responsible for the implementation of the Energy Conservation Guidelines.


The Energy Systems Specialist will provide regular (at least semi-annual) program update reports to the School Board.


The Energy Systems Specialist will perform routine audits of all facilities, and communicates the audit results to the appropriate personnel.


The Office of Facilities Management (OFM), Energy Management Section coordinator or his designee is responsible for either directly or indirectly programming or making adjustments to FCPS’ Energy Management Systems (EMS), including temperature settings and run times for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and other controlled equipment. Recommendations by the Energy Systems Specialist for alteration of scheduling of setpoints with the goal of reducing energy consumption will be considered along with all other building use input, and implemented by the Energy Management Section provided that the classroom or workplace environment is not negatively impacted.


Principals and program managers will regularly communicate the importance and impact of the Energy Conservation Program to its internal and external constituents.


The Energy Systems Specialist will provide monthly energy savings reports to principals or program managers detailing performance results.


FCPS is committed to and responsible for a safe, healthy, and comfortable learning environment.


To complement FCPS’ existing building and systems based energy management programs and new behavioral-based energy conservation programs, FCPS shall continue to budget for and fund its building Preventive Maintenance Program.



Teachers should do their best to keep classroom doors closed when HVAC is in operation, and ensure that doors between conditioned space and non-conditioned space remain closed at all times (i.e. between hallways and gym).  

Proper and thorough utilization of data loggers will be initiated and maintained by the energy specialist to monitor relative humidity, temperature, and light levels throughout FCPS facilities to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

All kitchen equipment hood exhaust fans should be operated by the Food Services kitchen manager or their designee only when the kitchen equipment is in use.

Exhaust fans and unit heaters controlled by local thermostats typically found in mechanical and electrical rooms shall be set to turn on the exhaust fan at space temperatures above 80°F and turn on the heater at space temperatures
below 55°F.   

All office machines (printers, laminating equipment, etc.) shall be switched off each night, and during unoccupied times. Fax machines and copiers may remain on. All copiers enter sleep mode after 1 hour of inactivity.

All desktop and laptop computers (including monitors, local printers, and multimedia speakers) should be turned off whenever possible at the end of the “use” day (this includes evening classes, if applicable).  Exceptions to this include 1) SOL caching servers, 2) SOL (or other high stakes) testing windows, 3) monthly patching windows, 4) staff working from home (or after hours) who remotely access their computers, and 5) any enterprise or local software distributions that are being distributed and managed centrally by IT.  Network equipment will be closely monitored and adjustments will be made as required.   Mobile devices (IPads) may be plugged in to recharge batteries.  External monitors and laptop displays are set to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity per the standard FCPS image.

All smart boards and smart board projectors should be turned off when not in use.

Televisions will only be turned on when used to watch TV or for school announcements.  Televisions will not be used as a clock.  Staff is expected to turn off televisions in the classroom or office when not in use.

Temperature Setpoints

Temperature setpoints for HVAC systems regulated by Energy Management Control Systems will be programmed and set by the Office of Facilities Management, Energy Management Section. Base setpoints will be programmed as follows:


  • During times when HVAC is scheduled to be occupied, the temperature is set between 72 °F and 74 °F, each classroom has local ability to change the temperature to as low as 70 °F or as high as 76 °F.

  • During unoccupied times, when the outside air is above 76 °F, the inside temperature is allowed to drift as high as 85 °F, but HVAC systems are never turned off.

  • During unoccupied times, when the outside air is below 70 °F, the inside temperature is allowed to drift as low as 55 °F, but HVAC systems are never turned off.


Exceptions to the programmed base setpoints may be made in special circumstances where HVAC equipment cannot maintain actual classroom space temperature at the above conditions due to design issues or equipment sizing or control issues.  

Short term (i.e. one day) exceptions may be made to the base setpoints for large group activities such as graduation ceremonies, back to school night, or music and arts performances in cafeterias, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and lecture halls. 

Occupant controlled slide adjusters, where they exist, will remain active with a maximum two degree adjustment above or below the base setpoint. 

Temperature setpoints for spaces with non-programmable thermostats such as trailers shall be maintained at the above setpoints.  Teachers in trailers are responsible for adjusting the thermostat to the above setpoints at the beginning and end of the school day.  Custodial staff is responsible for checking and setting the setpoints to the unoccupied mode during breaks when the trailer is not in daily use.

Air Conditioning Equipment

Occupied temperature settings shall NOT be set below 74°F.

During unoccupied times, the air conditioning equipment shall be off. The unoccupied period begins when students leave the area at the end of the day. It is anticipated that the temperature of the classroom will be maintained long enough to afford comfort for the period staff remains in the classroom after the students have left.  Air conditioning start times may be adjusted (depending on weather) to ensure classroom comfort when instruction begins, and will be the responsibility of OFM in accordance with the FCPS Energy Conservation Guidelines with input from the energy specialist.

Ceiling fans should be operated in all areas that have them.

Relative humidity levels shall not exceed 60% for any 24 hour period.

Air conditioning should not be utilized in facilities during the summer months unless the facility is being used for summer school, school-based programs, approved community use, Parks and Recreation program use, or other approved use.  The Office of Facilities Management, Energy Management Section will program EMS systems to be unoccupied during summer months for all areas of the building that are not in use.  The main office in FCPS school facilities will be programmed to be occupied for days and times that the office is scheduled to be open. Air conditioning for custodial cleaning may be used by exception only, or in those facilities that are involved in team-cleaning.

Trailers during periods of mild weather, teachers should use the thermostat to turn off the HVAC equipment and open windows.   

Ensure dry food storage areas are maintained within code requirements. Typically, this is 55°F -75°F and 35% - 60% relative humidity. Utilize loggers to verify.

Heating Equipment

Occupied temperature settings shall NOT be above 72°F. The unoccupied temperature setting shall be 55°F (i.e. setback). This may be adjusted to a 60°F setting during extreme weather.

The unoccupied time shall begin when students leave an area.

Ensure all domestic hot water systems are set no higher than 120°F or 140°F for cafeteria service (with dishwasher booster).

For heat pumps, ensure a 6°F dead-band between heating and cooling modes. 

Heating oil and propane (if applicable) levels should be physically measured and recorded by “sticking the tanks” at least on the following intervals: 1) recurring scheduled monthly date 2) immediately before new delivery 3) immediately after delivery.


All unnecessary lighting in unoccupied areas will be turned off. Staff should make certain that lights are turned off when leaving the classroom or office when empty.

Where sufficient natural daylighting is available through windows, staff is encouraged to open window blinds and turn off electric lighting.

All outside lighting shall be off during daylight hours.

Gymnasium lights should not be left on unless the gym is being utilized.

All lights will be turned off when students and staff leave for the day. Custodians will turn lights on only in the areas in which they are working.

Refrain from turning the lights on unless needed. Remember that lights not only consume electricity, but also give off heat that places an additional load on the air conditioning equipment and thereby increases the use of electricity necessary to cool the room.


Ensure all plumbing and/or intrusion (i.e. roof) leaks are reported and repaired immediately.

Grounds watering should only be done between 4am-10am. Do not water during the heat of the day, typically between 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 pm.

When spray irrigating, ensure the water does not directly hit the facility.