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Users impact on energy and water consumption in Portuguese

school buildings. From assessment to strategy.


Loureno, Patrcia1; Pinheiro, Manuel2; Heitor, Teresa3
1

Departamento de Arquitectura, Engenharia Civil e Georecursos, Instituto Superior Tcnico,


Lisboa, Portugal, patricia@planetacad.com
2
Departamento de Arquitectura, Engenharia Civil e Georecursos, Instituto Superior Tcnico,
Lisboa, Portugal, manuel.pinheiro@ist.utl.pt
3
Departamento de Arquitectura, Engenharia Civil e Georecursos, Instituto Superior Tcnico,
Lisboa, Portugal, teresa@ist.utl.pt
Abstract: The increase of complexity in school buildings to support user comfort and social
and functional demands is changing the resources consumption patterns, namely energy.
Users indoor comfort conditions also play a significant role in energy demand in school
buildings. A significant number of Portuguese public secondary schools were recently
refurbished, under a national modernization program. The present paper shares the main
results of a multiple case study, comprising eight secondary schools, regarding resources use
monitoring (energy and water) and the observational field work concerning users attitudes
and behaviour.Promoting best practices to enhance school buildings sustainability has a
double goal: addressing the environmental impact of a large stock of service buildings and
simultaneously raise awareness among the younger generations.
Key words: energy, water, schools, user, behaviour
Introduction
The increase of complexity in school buildings to support users comfort and social and
functional demands is changing the resources consumption patterns, namely energy. Several
research studies regarding energy use in schools conclude on a rising tendency, in particular
associated with an increase in electricity use. A more intensive use of IT as pedagogical tools,
an increase in equipment loads and artificial lighting use are refered in different countries
[1][2]. Also indoor comfort conditions, in particular regarding temperature and air quality,
play a significant role in energy demand in school buildings [3]. School buildings are a
particular sensitive typology regarding buildings users environmental impact. The energy
and water consumption monitoring in school buildings has been revealing significant energy
gaps [4] and variations [5] among cases, confirming such impact.
Understanding users/buildings interaction is crucial to promote sustainable design strategies.
Promoting best practices to enhance school buildings sustainability has a double goal:
addressing the environmental impact of a large stock of service buildings and simultaneously
raise awareness among the younger generations.
A significant number of Portuguese public secondary schools were recently refurbished,
under a national modernization program (SPM) [6]. These schools have been rehabilitated in
accordance with the Directive 2002/91/EC on the energy performance of buildings. The
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monitoring of the process itself was relevant to feed a data base that can allow critical
assessments and draw conclusions for future school buildings rehabilitation programs and
facilities management policies. User behaviour and strategies, regarding the interaction with
the schools facilities, was the main scope of a research project, while the resources use
environmental impact was the main concern. The present paper shares the main results of a
multiple case study, comprising eight secondary schools, regarding the resources use
monitoring (energy and water) and the observational field work concerning users attitudes
and behaviour.
Methodology
Nowadays monitoring use and resources metering is potentially producing a significant body
of quantitative data. One of the challenges, not yet consistently addressed, is the development
of research methodologies that allow drawing meaningful and operative conclusions from
such data. Scientific studies [7] [8] point out that simply presenting resources use information
and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is not enough to trigger improvement actions.
A multiple case study approach allowed a crossed analysis of the schools energy and water
performance assessment (KPIs) with user behavior through a post-occupancy observational
study. This lead to the identification of potential Key performance Strategies (KPSs) to
promote the schools environmental sustainability through user behavior.
Case study presentation
Table 1 presents the Portuguese public secondary schools main building typologies and
construction period. The selected cases represent the three main public secondary schools
building typoplogies. Seven of the selected schools (S1 to S7) are schools rehabilitated under
the SPM. The eight school (SB) has not been refurbished and was added as a blank case. The
eight schools are presented in Figure 1. The SPM program included new integrated
mechanical ventilation and acclimatization systems to comply with the legal standards for air
renovation rates and comfort conditions regarding indoor spaces. The total built area
increased for all the rehabilitated schools, as new functional areas, such as auditoriums and
libraries were added.
Table 1.Secondary schools buildings typologies and construction period.

Building typology

(A) Historical
lyceum

(B)
Technical (C) Pavilion model
schools model

Schematic plan

Construction period

Late XIX c. - 1930s

1934-1969

1970-1990s

Figure 1. The eight schools comprised in the multiple case study and respective typology.

Data collection and treatment


Energy and water consumption was collected considering five consecutive years: before
(2008), during (2009-2010) and after the refurbishment (2011-2012). Regarding the blank
case, energy data collection refers only to 2011 and 2012, in order to compare this school
energy use with the refurbished schools. Electricity consumption was collected through
metering while gas consumption was collected through the monthly bills. In the Results
section the total annual energy and water consumption is presented for each school. For
performance comparing among the cases annual energy consumption is normalized by surface
area and water consumption is normalized by number of students. The energy consumption
CO2 equivalent emissions are also normalized by number of students.
Walkthrough visits and semi-structured interviews were conducted in the eight schools. The
schools directors, operational staff and each school project designer team leader were
interviewed. Based on the crossed analysis of the schools energy and water consumption
performance and the actions, strategies and users motivations regarding their interactions with
building and systems, potential improvement strategies associated with user behavior (KPSs)
are proposed in the Conclusions section.
Results & Discussion
Energy and water consumption performance in the schools
Energy (electricity and gas) and water consumption before (2008) and after (2012) the
rehabilitation is presented in Table 2. Figures 2 to 4 present the consumption evolution
throught the monitored period while Figures 5 to 7 present the schools comparative
normalized performance after the refurbishment (2012).
Before the refurbishment the average annual energy consumption in the schools was
41kWh/m2/year and after the refurbishment it raised to 67kWh/m2/year. Electricity raised, in
average, 200% and is the main energy source used in the schools. Gas consumption registered
the highest increase after the refurbishment; 322% between 2008 and 2012. Only associated
with water heating and cooking before the refurbishment, gas is now also used for space
heating in some schools (S1, S3, S6). The CO2 eq. emissions increased 239%, between 2008
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and 2012, corresponding to an average of 144.511 KgCO2/year in each secondary school in


2012 (67 KgCO2/stundent/year or 18 KgCO2/m2/year).
Table 2. Resources consumption before (2008) and after the refurbishment (2012).

Thewes et al [1] refer average European schools electricity consumption values from 10 to 30
kWh/m2/year, which are below the present cases both before and after the refurbishment
(35kWh/m2/year and 51kWh/m2/year). The same authors refer 100 kWh/m2/year as a
reference for heating consumption in the schools. Such value is quiet above the gas
consumption in the present case study after the refurbishment (16kWh/m2/year) and even
above the total energy consumption (67kWh/m2/year). Although the Portuguese school cases
present lower total energy use, the increase in the consumption trend (+218% between 2008
and 2012) confirms the need to monitor this particular building typology, as defended in other
contexts [1][2].
The schools introducing gas for space heating registered an average increase of 719% and
were responsible for 76% of the total gas consumption, considering the seven refurbished
schools (Figure 3). These schools also show a higher variation between 2011 and 2012,
revealing the attempt to adapt to the newly introduced heating system.
Regarding water use patterns, after the refurbishment the consumption decreased, in average,
by 10% (Table 2). The water supply system renovation had a significant impact in the demand
reduction. When considering both the raise in students number per year between 2008 and
2012 in the schools - 137%, in average - and in built area - 141% - a raise in water demand
should be expected. But contrary, the total annual consumption decreased in three
modernized schools (S1, S2, S5). The relatively similar total water use in the blank case (SB),
where there are no sport facilities and showers, when comparing to the refurbished schools
indicate that the factor water supply system was a major factor impacting water demand
before the refurbishment. The comparative water consumption performance between the
refurbished schools and the blank case emphasizes this conclusion (Figure 7). The water
systems refurbishment also homogeneized consumption, as the variation among the cases
reduced from 4,74x in 2008 to 2,01x in 2012. In two schools (S3, S5), between 2011 and
2012, the schools administrations introduced policies for water systems supervision and active
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management (taps flux in the bathrooms and showers were adjusted) leading to an additional
reduction of about 33% in these schools annual water consumption (Figure 4). Other studies
on water use in school buildings had reached similar conclusions, relating the water systems
renovation with significant demand reductions [5] [9].
800000
700000

400000

600000
h
W
k
in 500000
se
u
y
itc 400000
rit
ce
le 300000
y
rla
e
Y200000

h 300000
W
k
ni
es 250000
u
s
ga 200000
lyr
ae
150000
Y

350000

2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

100000
50000

100000

0
S1

0
S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

SB

SB

Figure 2. Annual electricity consumption in the


schools between 2008 and 2012

Figure 3. Annual gas consumption in the schools


between 2008 and 2012

12000

10000

are 8000
y
re
p

2008
2009
2010

3,

m
in
,e 6000
s
u
re
ta
w
la
to
T 4000

2011
2012

2000

S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

SB

Figure 4. Annual water use in the secondary schools between 2008 and 2012

Users attitudes and behaviours


When inquired about energy and water management in the schools all the administration
board members, revealed that economical factors were their main concern, especially
regarding the energy consumption increase after the refurbishment.
Economical factors were the main drivers for developing strategies to reduce energy while
environmental awareness is more frequently associated with water use.
Because electricity unitary costs are higher than gas, school directors revealed higher concern
with the electricity rise and were less aware of the gas increase, even though it was
substantially higher in some cases. Most directors revealed that they did not have a consistent
knowledge about the schools resources consumption patterns and they all stated to have none
on benchmarks regarding energy and water consumption in school buildings. Significant
variation in the monthly bills (cost) is an awareness trigger for potential inefficiency
detection, both for energy and water.

Because there is not a consistent benchmark data disclosure and communication regarding
the resources use in the Portuguese schools, users can not make grounded assessments
regarding their behaviour and the schools performance.
Regarding the tools available for systems management, in some cases computerized BMS
(Building Management Systems) were installed to manage the HVAC systems (S1, S2, S5,
S6), in one other case to manage both HVAC and lighting systems (S4), while others schools
maintained a manual operation of both HVAC and lighting systems (S3, S7). This means
different levels of management perception and feed-back, from a holistic and broader
knowledge of the entire facilities status to blind management.
Although the rehabilitated schools have now similar installed equipments, users have
different tools to control their comforts conditions and manage energy use.
250

100
S6

90

S1

80
70

S5

60

SB

S2

tn
e150
d
u
st/
2
O
C
g100
K

S3

m
/
h 50
W
k

S4
S7

40

200

S1

S7
S2

S6
S3
S5

30
50

20

SB

S4

10
0

Figure 6. Schools KPIs: energy consumption


equivalent KgCO2 emissions, normalized by number of
students

Figure 5. Schools KPIs: energy consumption,


normalized by surface area
9
8

SB

7
6
t
n
e5
d
u
t
/s

S1
S4

m4

S6

S3
S2

S7

S5

2
1
0

Figure 7. Schools KPIs: water consumption, normalized by number of students (2012)

Conclusions: Potential Key Performance Strategies for a sustainable resources use in


school buildings
i.
Valuating information and communication: feed-back and knowledge transfer
The present case study points out the relevancy that the positive action-reaction loops have for
users to feed forward and orient their future interactions with buildings. The research allowed
identifying that the lack of knowledge transfer among stakeholders and benchmark
information disclosure is preventing users to make grounded assessments regarding their own
behavior.
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ii.
From environmental awareness to proficiency
The valuing of environmental issues together with the above mentioned users proficiency
regarding the systems and resources management emerged as an apparently necessary
combination for going from environmental awareness to action.
iii.
Systems usability and adaptability
The school users have different tools to manage energy and control their comfort conditions.
Having a BMS does not necessarily mean more efficiency and comfort. The combination of
the former strategies (i+ii) seem to be a prior necessary condition for an efficient and more
sustainable use of the BMS. The case study analysis presents evidence that a proficient use of
a BMS integrating HVAC and lighting management can have a positive impact in the schools
energy performance.
iv.
Acknowledging different users profiles, different needs and comfort standards:
customizing
One school with computerized BSM is feeding the system with more detailed and customized
input data, based on user feed-back (S4). This allows the setting of customized comfort
standards considering different users, performing different tasks, in different spaces, with
different schedules. In the present case, the quality of the BMS input data and standards
customization seems to be impacting positively the school energy performance and users
satisfaction.
References
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