|This question is key to building an accurate model of how your school building is using energy. An accurate model will allow the energy auditors to better identify ways your school can reduce energy costs for the building. Following are some points to consider.
If you assume the school academic year is 10 months (excluding spring break, December holidays, teacher prep days, 3 day weekends, etc), you have approximately 40 weeks of school operation a year or 200 days a year. At 10 hours per day, the school operates 2,000 hours per year. If facility staff open the building at 7 a.m., the building would be vacated and locked up by 5 p.m. nearly every day of the school year to maintain a 10 hours-per-day schedule. If the building is opened at 6 a.m., then it would be completely closed down by 4 p.m. to maintain the 10 hours-per-day schedule.
Additional Building Usage
Consider what evening functions are occurring. If your school has evening classes 4 nights a week, the school might be open an additional 3 to 5 hours a day. If this is the case, does the school actually close in the afternoon? Is the daily operation of the school from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. for 4 days a week? Assuming only 10 hours on Friday and without anything happening on the weekends, that makes the annual hours of operation 2,720 hours per year.
If the school has one open house type function for one evening each month, lasting 3 hours, this adds at least 30 additional hours of operation.
If cleaning services operate for 2 hours a night after the building is closed, add 400 hours to hours of operation
Five months of after-school sports programs (that operate till 6 p.m.) adds 100 to 200 hours of annual operation.
Also, what about the weekends? If the school is in use for 4 hours on Saturdays through the school year, add 160 hours to the hours of operation. Maybe the school is completely closed on Sundays. But, then maybe not.
What about the non-academic months of the year? Is the school closed and locked without anybody inside during those months? Does the maintenance staff do major cleaning during the summer? Does the office staff actually take the whole summer off? When do the teachers come back? Does that add a week to the school year? Or is it two? If new teachers are hired during the summer, how long is their orientation or training? And when/where is conducted?
If custodial/maintenance works 40 hour weeks during the summer, that could add a few hundred hours to the operating hours. Unless there is a stringent program of conservation during this time, the energy use could be higher during the summer months, since cleaning and painting require high amounts of air to control humidity and fumes. Is the air conditioning for the building running during the summer?
Other Schedule Oddities
Recognize that the whole school might not be operating during the evenings and/or weekends. If the school routinely uses the gym, cafeteria, library or multi-use room for sports and/or proms, these activities affect the energy usage of the school. Unless someone has the ability to shut down the rest of the school´s energy systems and is doing so, this usage must be considered in the hours of operation. If the rest of the school is shutdown, this partial operation needs to be identified in the energy audits.
Questions to Determine Building Operating Hours
Some questions you should be asking yourself include:
What time does the first person arrive at the school?
This document cannot answer these questions. Hopefully, however, it will help you carefully consider your answer to the question, "How many hours a week does your school operate?"
What time does the building actually close?
When is cleaning/repair/maintenance done?
Is anybody using the building after school?
Is anybody using the building in the evenings?
How often do you have evening programs? How long are they?
Is the building being used on the weekend? How often? By who?