USD 503 agrees to contract for energy conservation

USD 503 agrees to contract for energy conservation

November 17, 2015, Parsons, Kansas – The USD 503 Board of Education Monday approved entering into a contract with Trane to enhance the district’s energy performance and savings through participating in a facility conservation improvement program.

The contract with Trane for energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) is contingent on legal review and approval of financing.

Provisions under K.S.A. 75-37, 25 allow districts to contract with a company to perform construction work guaranteeing districts energy savings once work is completed that will be enough to cover the costs for the work done. Any savings beyond the project costs are the district’s to keep. If the savings are not realized, Trane would be responsible for making the payments and going back in and correcting the problem to realize the savings promised.

During the course of the last year, a preliminary audit was performed by Trane to determine if the district would be a good candidate to participate in ESPC. Preliminary findings showed the district could find savings through updating its infrastructure.

Learning the results of the preliminary assessment, the district entered into an investment grade audit agreement with Trane in June, wherein Trane performed an extensive, in-depth study of all the district’s facilities.

That information was presented to the board Monday by Trane representatives Kevin Ward and Randy Jameson. Ward said the study was focused on students’ learning environment improvements, fiscal advantages and environmental stewardship. Trane mapped those to the district’s goals that were established, allowing the company to determine the areas of greatest concern to the district.

Ward and Jameson said the results led to proposals for replacement of aging systems, lighting upgrades, water conservation and roof replacements.

Most heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the district, especially roof-top units, range in age from 18 to 20 years old, far beyond their 15-year life expectancy. Some of the units have begun needing extensive repairs, increasing costs of regular maintenance.

Many of the roofs in the district, being around 20 years old, need to be replaced or overlaid, as they are now requiring ongoing maintenance and repairs.

Toilets and urinals in the buildings could be replaced with more water-conservative units. Jameson said water rates in many small towns, such as Parsons, are much higher than larger cities, and old, standard, high-flow toilets are costing the district.

Replacement of lighting and controls in most of the buildings, and on their exteriors, would save the district money as well, through converting to lower wattage or LEDs.

As a side note, the representatives told the board the district office could also switch to using the same gas supplier as the schools and put the district office on the same electrical plan as the schools, securing an educational rate.

Ward and Jameson presented two proposals, proposal 5 for $2.05 million and proposal 6 for $2.6 million. It is anticipated the district can secure an interest rate of 3.5 percent over the course of 15 years.

Ward said many districts use their capital outlay to cover the lease-purchase agreement, leaving all the operational/maintenance savings in the general fund to care of other priorities.

Board member Jeff Quirin said he looked over the plans and at first considered proposal 5, but considering the condition of the roofs, and that in the next three to five years, most will need to be replaced, he believed proposal 6 was the direction the board should go.

Quirin said since he has been serving on the board, a pending question has been when all the HVACs and roofs started failing, how the district could afford to replace everything. A contract in which energy savings are guaranteed to cover the costs of a lease-purchase agreement that would cover replacing aging roofs and systems is the answer.

Trane said if the board moved forward with approval of the contract, pending funding and legal review, it would allow the district to stay on schedule for work to begin in the spring and be completed before the start of the coming school year.

The board did not hesitate to move forward.

Superintendent Shelly Martin said the board had passed the capital outlay resolution, allowing the district to assess a few mills in anticipation of possible needed capital improvements, or to help pay finance fees over the course of a project such as this.

“This is the proactive approach we’ve been looking for,” Quirin said.