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Schenectady schools look for energy savings to pay for... energy savings

Schenectady schools look for energy savings to pay for... energy savings

Upgrades would likely include overhaul of district’s most dated building control systems
Schenectady schools look for energy savings to pay for... energy savings
Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring.
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

Schenectady city schools are looking to make energy efficiency upgrades financed by the promised energy budget savings that come with those improvements.

The school board on Wednesday approved an agreement with Honeywell to set out on detailing where efficiency upgrades in Schenectady schools can maximize the most savings in energy use and utility costs. After agreeing to a subsequent contract, Honeywell would then guarantee energy savings the district could use to finance improvements.

The upgrades would likely include an overhaul of the district’s most dated building control systems, allowing heating, cooling and lighting systems to more easily shut down when not needed. Covering hot water pipes, expanding insulation and limiting the amount of time computers remain on could all save the district money on energy use. Lights that haven’t already been transitioned to LED could be so as another source of savings.

The board signed off for Honeywell to move forward with an audit of the district’s energy systems before presenting a plan that guarantees a certain level of financial savings for the district over an 18-year period. The district and Honeywell would set down a certain level of savings the company would promise to realize on behalf of the district.

“That risk sits with us,” Terence Guiry, of Honeywell, told the school board Wednesday. “We are willing to do that work because we believe we can produce a self-funding contract – one that produces huge value.”

The project was estimated to cost nearly $5 million, with energy savings coming in at around $400,000 a year over 18 years – or around $7.2 million in savings over the term of the agreement. District officials said another contract with Honeywell, detailing the savings and the work to be done and outlining the financial guarantee Honeywell will promise the district, would come back before the board around January.

Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring said the capital work that comes as part of the energy savings plan will not impact the district’s ongoing capital projects, which in some cases include energy efficiency upgrades. The work in the energy savings project will allow the district to take those upgrades further in places capital projects have not been able to prioritize yet.

“This allows us to do a little bit more,” Spring said of the upgrades.

The district is also working with a separate company, the ECG Group, to help it navigate the overall process of moving forward with the energy savings project. That company helped Schenectady district official review three proposals before selecting Honeywell for board approval.

In it’s proposal Honeywell highlighted its experience shepherding energy savings project through the state Education Department and argued it had a track record of completing the projects quicker than its competitors. The proposed timeline suggested installation of the energy efficiency upgrades would start next summer and take about a year to complete.

“Honeywell can provide Schenectady City Schools an optimal teaching and learning environment for students, faculty and the community, by leveraging project savings to implement comprehensive facility improvements, without the need for additional taxes of capital spending,” the company wrote in its proposal.

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