Northland Pines High School (NPHS) in Eagle River, Wis., was constructed in 2006 at a square-foot cost that was 25 percent below the regional average cost of $154 per square foot. It was the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) K-12 school building in Wisconsin and the first public high school in the United States to receive gold LEED certification.

But the savings didn’t stop when construction ended. The baseline estimate of annual energy costs for the 250,000-square-foot school was $357,996, based on the utility rates in place when the building was being designed in 2004 and 2005. The design model estimate was $227,665 or $0.91 per square foot per year for an annual savings of $130,331 per year compared with the baseline estimate.

Energy performance of the high school has been monitored since it opened in 2006-07. In the first full year of operation, energy costs were $219,429 (at the 2004-05 utility rates) or $0.88 per square foot. In succeeding years, energy costs were was $0.85 per square foot in 2007-08 and $0.83 per square foot in 2008-09. The facility is surpassing the expected energy savings. The annual energy savings in the third year of operation amounted to $149,843 at the fixed utility rates. In light of the increase in utility rates since the design of the school, the current savings are higher. In addition, the high school has realized about $5,000 per year in water savings.

  • Read the main story, "Sustainable Delivery," to learn several strategies can help schools and universities realize the green energy-savings promise.