The Washingtonville Central School District is undertaking an improvement project that could generate energy savings of about $196,000 annually, which in turn would be used to fund future capital improvements.
The project includes conversion to LED lighting, 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.
In a press release issued by ECG Group, the company designing the energy efficiency project, Dr. Larry Washington, WCSD Superintendent of Schools, said 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 press release.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, an energy performance contract (EPC) is a budget-neutral approach to make building improvements that reduce energy and water use and increase operational efficiency. ECG spokesperson Deborah Jerome said the 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. You can read more about how an EPC can provide a school district with an alternative to financing energy projects on the New York State Office of the Comptroller website.
ECG estimates the total environmental impact of the project to 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, an ECG project engineer for the WCSD 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 school districts in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties to execute energy performance initiatives, including several currently underway.