Knowledge Quest Academy

Trail-blazing charter school embraces out-of-the-box energy efficiency strategy.

Industry

Education

Equipment

LED Lighting

Subscription Length

60 Months

Expected Savings

$10,080/year

CO2 Reduction

152,328 lbs/year

Energy Reduction

103,067 kWh/year

Location

Milliken, Colorado

The Problem

Knowledge Quest Academy is a K-8 charter school in Milliken, Colorado that champions comprehensive education that is both technically savvy and theoretically sound.

For the educators at Knowledge Quest Academy, the school is more than just a workplace - it's a second home. Their commitment goes beyond education. When the school fell on hard financial times six years ago, teachers and staff donated part of their salaries to keep the doors open for the academic year.

Principal Linda Spreitzer took the helm shortly after and, together with her dedicated staff and Board of Directors, worked tirelessly to get the school's finances back on track. Today, Knowledge Quest Academy is thriving with over 400 students, 7 sports teams, and forward-looking extracurriculars like a Lego Robotics Team.

The Opportunity

Just like a home, the school building requires constant upkeep. Linda often faces trade-offs when it comes to facility improvements on a tight budget - fix the broken toilet, upgrade the boiler, or outfit the new computer lab?

When it came to the school's lights, the old, mismatched fixtures were an eyesore and a resource drain. Without an in-house maintenance team, every broken ballast required a call to the electrician and a $300-500 expense. Linda had heard about the energy-saving potential of LEDs, so she reached out to local energy efficiency experts, Enertech, to discuss options.

Enertech started by installing new LEDs in the gymnasium and parking lot. The entire Knowledge Quest community saw the impact of the improved light quality, and Linda was thrilled with the energy savings. The Board began to budget for LEDs across the entire school, but quickly realized that paying out of the school's capital budget would require phasing the project over 3-5 years. As a leader, Linda disliked the idea of prioritizing some parts of the school over others. Everyone should have the teaching and learning environment they deserve.

I fell in love with the whole process. We were all on the same page about what's best for the kids and what's best for the school. It was a win win win win WIN situation!

Linda Spreitzer, Principal

The Solution

Enertech recognized the challenge of a piecemeal approach and suggested an alternative - the Sparkfund Technology Subscription™.

The Sparkfund subscription allowed Knowledge Quest Academy to pay for their efficiency upgrades through fixed, monthly, operating expense payments with no upfront cost and built-in maintenance.

For Knowledge Quest Academy, that meant it was possible to retrofit the whole school at once. Every student, teacher, and classroom could be top priority.

This lighting project signaled to me that we're not a poor school anymore. We turned the corner. We can now be the showplace that we've always wanted to be.

Linda Spreitzer, Principal

The Result

Over Christmas recess, to avoid interrupting classes, Enertech's team installed new lighting in the elementary and middle school classrooms, library, tech lab, offices, and common areas, as well as exterior lighting around the building. When everyone returned from the holidays to see the beautiful new LEDs, they were, according to Linda, "absolutely giddy."

Linda had anticipated the benefits of energy savings (over $10,000 per year) and cleaner, more attractive light, but the additional health and educational advantages of LEDs were an added bonus. The more consistent light, which doesn't flicker, improved student concentration. The light dimmers in every classroom were immediately adopted by the team. Headache sufferers lowered light levels when headaches hit and student teachers and practicums immediately started to creatively incorporate mood-lighting into their lesson plans.

The ability to roll out such a comprehensive project was a symbolic, and emotional, moment for the school. They had come a long way.

The Future

Trail Blazers isn't just Knowledge Quest Academy's mascot - it's a mentality - and Linda and her team already have their eyes set on the future.

The subscription, which includes the option to add on new technologies over time, has given Knowledge Quest Academy the ability to plan ahead and escape the vicious cycle of reactive repairs. The school now has a facility master plan through 2035. As the need to replace their HVAC systems approaches, or as new lighting technology hits the market, the school already has a financial strategy in place to pay for it, as well as relationships with Enertech and Sparkfund to get it done.

People are starting to recognize our school for being progressive and forward-thinking. By sharing our story, I hope it will help get people out of their box to see what's possible.

Linda Spreitzer, Principal

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