Facilities (Energy Managment)

Bundled Energy Solutions

District saves more than $300,000

Bundled Energy Solutions

The Charlotte County Public School District, in Charlotte County, Va., has been educating students since the 1700s, and through the years has demonstrated a strong commitment to education and the community. Today, the Charlotte County School District educates thousands of students a year, consists of seven schools, and has a mission to cultivate “21st Century - Ready” students and staff with a passion for life-long learning.

The district is located in a rural community with a small tax base. During the 2011 school year, the district was forced to close one of its schools because of rising costs and a shrinking population. As a result of the decreasing tax base and low funding, the county had to seek creative ways to support and provide their students with a healthy and comfortable learning environment.

Challenge

Energy costs are one of the largest non-payroll expenses for school districts, and in recent years those costs have increasingly impacted overall budgets.

Like many schools today, the district was facing shrinking tax bases and resources, yet expectations to modernize its aging facilities and reduce its carbon footprint were at an all-time high. It had to get creative in order to meet its goals of providing students with state-of-the-art learning environments, while also reducing energy and operational costs. And, the district needed to do it working within its current operating budget — so as not to increase taxes that would further burden the local community.

Solution

The district turned to ABM, a provider of facility and energy solutions, for help. ABM’s Bundled Energy Solutions program was an ideal solution because it is designed as a financial solution to meet clients’ technical facility needs. The goal is to drive costs out of a client’s operating budget to allow savings to be reallocated to fund other facility improvements.

Partnering with ABM, the Charlotte County School District was able to implement facility and energy upgrades including ultra-efficiency boilers, HVAC systems with increased cooling capacity and high-efficiency lighting, as well as the latest computerized automation and controls, instant domestic water heaters and more. They also worked together to drive awareness and educate students on energy-efficient behavior, how to positively affect their environment through conservation and recycling. An additional benefit of the expanded funding solution was the ability for the district to remodel its auditorium, which now serves as a community center.

The district was able to do all this through an innovative financial structure that allowed it to utilize a Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) allocation that it was initially going to return to the state because it did not want to impact already burdened taxpayers. The energy solutions program enabled the district to leverage the bond with a near-zero interest rate, helping transform the $1.2 million-bond into $2.4 million worth of infrastructure and energy improvements! The district saved thousands of dollars in interest expense and did not have to raise community taxes.

Benefits

Over the entire life of the project, the Charlotte County School District is expected to achieve more than $3,000,000 in energy and operational savings. These guaranteed savings will allow the improvements to pay for themselves. And the savings after the recent first-year audit demonstrate the district is exceeding expectations:

  • Energy and utility savings are $334,121
  • Electric usage was reduced by 29.2 percent (901,345 kWh)
  • Fuel energy saved (including converting to propane from fuel oil) was 20.2 percent (14,347 MMBtu)

In fact, Charlotte County School District was guaranteed to save $154,230 in the first year but they actually saved $334,121 — a windfall of an extra $179,891 in savings — more than double the guarantee!

The state-of-the-art energy improvements at Charlotte County Public Schools are exceeding all expectations and having a very positive impact on the environment. The energy savings are equivalent to:

  • 3,249 barrels of oil not consumed;
  • 10.8 acres of forest preserved;
  • 156,636 gallons of gas not consumed;
  • 291 passenger vehicles not used; and
  • 1,397 metric tons of CO2 not created.

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of School Planning & Management.

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