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Green Schools | News

Montana School District Could Save $140K Annually with Energy Efficiency Improvements

A Montana school district is looking to save more than $140,000 per year through improvements made to 12 of its school buildings — improvements that are designed to make them more energy-efficient. The changes, which will be finished by the end of 2013, will come at no up-front cost to the district.

Kalispell School District No. 5, located in Kalispell, MT, has entered into an energy savings performance contract with Framingham, MA-based energy firm Ameresco, which will make energy efficiency and infrastructure changes worth upwards of $3.29 million.

Energy savings performance contracts were authorized by Congress in an effort to improve energy efficiency of federal buildings. Under such agreements, an energy company develops the plans to improve efficiencies in school buildings, then buys and installs all the necessary equipment at no cost to the school. In exchange, the school pays a certain amount of savings to the energy company — in this case Ameresco.

"One of Kalispell's oldest schools has been looking for a way to pay for upgrades to its heating and cooling system and increase its energy efficiency, but not impact our taxpayers," said Superintendent Darlene Shottle in a prepared statement. "Flathead High School was of particular concern with classrooms either too warm, too cold, or water leaking in through the roof. We had to look at more innovative ways to try to do some of the building upgrades that needed to be done. Ameresco was able to make these improvements with this budget-neutral approach."

According to Ameresco, the company completed an energy-savings audit and identified necessary improvements around the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning infrastructure, as well as:

  • Lighting control upgrades for inside and out;
  • Water efficiency retrofits;
  • Building envelope improvements;
  • Boiler replacement;
  • Variable air volume conversion;
  • Variable speed pumping;
  • Temperature control systems upgrades;
  • Custom bus engine heater control system implementation;
  • Domestic hot water heater replacement; and
  • Rooftop and HVAC system replacement.

Costs will be paid for through "grants, rebates, and energy savings," according to Ameresco, including a $1 million Montana Quality School Grant in order to make infrastructure improvements at Flathead High School, which will result in in cutting the district's annual carbon footprint by "1,212,248 kWh in electric savings, 56,079 therms in natural gas savings, and 1,526,600 gallons of water saved annually."

Kalispell School District No. 5 consists of Flathead High School, Glacier High School, Linderman Education Center, Kalispell Middle School, the H.E. Robinson Agricultural Education Center, the Academic Transition Center, and Kalispell Elementary Schools.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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