8/16/18 ABSS is looking at $7.8 million in utilities updates
|LED light at the end of the tunnel|
Jessica Williams / Times-News
The school system tested out new Lithonia LED lights at Eastlawn Elementary School to see how they compared to outdated florescent lights.
ABSS is looking at $7.8 million in utilities updates
By Jessica Williams The Times-News 8/16/18
Reprinted with permission.
Alamance-Burlington schools are getting $7.8 million in new lighting, chillers, low flow valves and aerators thanks to performance contracting.
For those who need a refresher: Performance contracting is a method of paying for updated school lighting, HVAC controls, etc., by installing energy-saving fixtures and using the money saved on the utility bill to pay for the installation over time.
ABSS hired the energy service company Trane US Inc. (Brady Trane) in late 2017 to assess where money could be saved. At the Board of Education work session Tuesday, Aug. 14, Energy Services Project Developer Asher Flynt presented those findings.
“Dr. Thorpe and his team have done an incredible job of lowering your energy bills, to the point that we actually can’t save you money at most of those schools,” Flynt said. “They’re doing such a good job of scheduling things off when people aren’t there and running it very efficiently.”
As a result, Thorpe says the school system can’t afford the HVAC updates he’d hoped to include.
Still, Brady Trane calculates that ABSS can save $677,695 per year, which means the $7.8 million project should be paid off by 2031.
If, for some reason, the savings does not equal that estimate and ABSS ends up owing money, Brady Trane is contracted to pay the difference.
Here’s what the schools are getting for the money:
• Old fluorescent lights in classrooms, offices and libraries will be replaced with Lithonia LED lights with dimming capability;
• Toilet and urinal flush valves will be converted to low-flow to save water;
• Faucet aerators will be replaced so sinks deliver less water per minute; and
• Chillers at Altamahaw-Ossipee, E.M. Holt and South Graham elementary schools, and Western Alamance Middle and High schools will be replaced (These have been identified as the worst of the worst).
Though lighting replacement may seem minimal, a pilot conducted in a few classrooms at Eastlawn Elementary School showed a huge difference between the old, yellowed florescent lights and the new, brighter, whiter LED lights.
Board member Pam Thompson said when they replaced the lighting in the basement of Williams High School it was like moving from “a cave into the daytime.” Two teachers told her they wouldn’t have retired if they’d known it was being updated.
“That’s really what we’re striving for,” Flynt said.
Work is expected to begin around January.
It will take approximately six months to replace the lighting in every school except Pleasant Grove Elementary, which was pulled out because ABSS is anticipating doing a large-scale renovation there if the bond passes in November.
For anyone wondering why the school system didn’t include this work in the $150 million bond package, they are saving that money for high-cost renovations that do not have a payback.
By using the performance contracting payment method to install new water conserving valves, lighting and chillers, they are both freeing up bond funds and “creating” additional funding by borrowing against the savings created by the new installations.
Brady Trane will present these findings again Aug. 27 at the Board of Education’s night meeting, after which the board is expected to vote to proceed.
It will take a resolution from the county commissioners agreeing to continue funding utilities at the current amount before Brady Trane receives the official green light.