Climate + Action: Evaluating Energy and Cost with Sustainable Solutions

My Climate and Action students (Erin Schwartz, Caitlin Coyne, and Kat Holleran) have been working on evaluating the energy and cost savings for the school if we insulated our attic in the Classics Building. Martin Berry of Berry Insulation has been working with us on this.  He came in earlier in the term and walked through the attic with the girls, talking through the approach he would take to air sealing and insulating the space.  Then he gave us some basic instruction on how to calculate the energy savings.
The girls measured the main attic space, calculated the pitch of the roof, and then calculated the roof surface area.  We also worked on doing calculations on the difference in annual heat loss from our uninsulated roof vs. an insulated roof and figuring out the associated financial benefits.
Through this project, they not only learned about energy savings, but also learned about different measures for estimating financial benefits, including Return in Investment, Net Present Value, and Internal Rate of Return.
Our initial calculations show that we would save between $3,500 and $6,000 annually if we did this air sealing and insulation work, for a payback time of between 7 and 11 years.  The Internal Rate of Return for the project is between 7 and 16% (depending on the price of natural gas).
We are so grateful to Martin Berry for his time and expertise!

Torrey McMillan is the Director of the Center for Sustainability at Hathaway Brown School

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