Meet Jerry Marshall, Energy Manager at Firstfloor Energy Positive. We sat down with Jerry and our Energy Positive Program Manager, James Rice, to get their take on the five new Firstfloor Horry County schools. As the Energy Manager, Jerry’s primary role is to ensure that the new state-of-the-art facilities in Horry County reach their energy-positive goal by minimizing facility energy consumption through the utilization of modern energy efficiency techniques and by maximizing energy production through continually monitoring solar equipment performance data to maintain effective energy output. Learn more about Jerry, his experience on the project, and his perspectives on the future of energy-positive schools in the interview below.
How long have you been designing energy-positive schools?
“While I have worked in the field of facilities operations and energy management for decades, coming to FFEP was my first opportunity to work on an energy-positive project.”
What do you think makes these 5 new energy-positive schools unique?
“The schools are unique in so many ways. They have hybrid variable-air-volume/radiant heating and cooling systems, geothermal wells, highly efficient heat recovery chillers, all LED lighting, and energy system controls that utilize the latest in smart building technology. They also have a plug load management system that turns off unnecessary building loads after hours, an incredible number of photovoltaic solar panels, and dozens of energy meters throughout the building with which every individual energy consuming system can be measured and monitored.”
What is your take on the current state of North Carolina schools?
“I have worked in NC for more than a decade as an energy manager, so I know that NC positions itself as a national leader in energy efficiency. Many schools from K-12 to major post-secondary research institutions recognize the importance of proper stewardship and management of our environmental resources. To that end, many have implemented goals for energy efficiency and/or carbon neutrality. Many have even signed the President’s Climate Commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.
However, for all this talk, we are still too often stuck in the old design and construction paradigm of thinking of every new building as an individual structure that must be built at the lowest possible construction cost and of having every major energy consuming system in those buildings be provided and installed by the lowest bidder. This old way of thinking is a sure fire way to ensure that every one of those buildings and energy systems will be the least technologically advanced and will be built to the lowest quality and efficiency standards allowed by law. This has to change. We must learn to value the total cost of ownership over the first cost of construction alone. And we must learn to see each new building as part of a larger system of facilities, each able to contribute energy or borrow energy as needed from the larger system. To remain stuck in the old paradigm wastes millions of taxpayer dollars over the life of every new building we add and does not provide our students with the all the advantages they deserve.”
Is there anything else you would like the public to know who may not be aware of this method?
“The second most important question any organization can ask is where do we want to be five or ten years from now. We might also ask ourselves that question regarding the education of our children. What kind of advantages do we want our children to have that we perhaps did not have? Asking this question helps us improve our educational system just as it helps other organizations improve their particular product or service.
However, the MOST important question an organization can ask is where will the competition be five or ten years from now.
Our children are destined to compete in a global marketplace and they deserve to have whatever advantages we may be able to provide. Energy-positive schools produce the lowest total cost of ownership, have the lowest environmental impact and provide the highest degree of occupant comfort and the best environment for student and teacher performance. We must choose to lead the way in giving our children the advantage of having had these kinds of educational advancements, not lag behind and let others take the lead.
Want to learn more?
Get the Inside Look of Firstfloor Horry County Schools here.