WASHINGTONVILLE – As schools plan for building improvement projects, some of them are taking long-term energy saving into consideration.
A project at Washingtonville School District could generate energy savings of about $196,000 annually, which would be used to fund future capital improvements at schools, according to a release by ECG Group, a company that designs the project.
Larry Washington, superintendent of Washingtonville Central School District, said in a release provided by the company that the project would allow the district to fully maximize its financial resources.
"By using the Energy Performance Contract to self-fund needed energy-related upgrades, we can free up our capital reserve, budget, and any future bond plans to address non-energy related projects, thus getting more work done for the same tax-payer impact,” Washington said in the release.
The project would include LED lighting conversion, ventilation upgrades, pipe insulation and roof-mounted solar panels. It would be funded through a mix of state aid and energy savings that the upgrades will yield over time.
ECG spokesperson Deborah Jerome said the way it works is that a project is funded by the energy savings it generates. Therefore, the savings have to be guaranteed to ensure the project is self-funded. That guarantee is provided by an energy services company hired by the school district. If the guarantee is not realized then the energy services company is responsible for making up the difference, she said.
The company says the total environmental impact of the project would be significant, as the annual carbon dioxide emission reduction is expected to be more than 1,374 tons, which equals the annual energy use of 165 homes, or 299 passenger vehicles taken off the road.
Justin Benoit, a project engineer for the Washingtonville project, said in contrast to a traditional capital project that only looks at the facility's needs, the project identifies all opportunities to drive energy savings. He noted LED lighting is a big component of the savings, in addition to monitors that would automatically control devices.
Over the years, ECG Group has worked with districts in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties in executing an energy performance initiative. In Pine Bush, a project that would generate $422,000 annual energy savings is underway. A Newburgh School District project is expected to reduce 60% in energy costs and generate about $1.5 million annual energy savings.
“We have really seen an increase in the amount of projects that we’ve been performing,” said Benoit. “More recently, school districts are looking for different avenues to fund immediate improvements; the energy-saving aspect is another huge initiative that becomes more relevant as well. The combination of those two things has made it more accessible and intriguing to school districts.”
This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Schools considering energy savings for capital projects, improvements