School District 51 plans to have energy audit

School District 51 has contracted with an energy-
performance company for an audit of the district’s buildings that will identify where efficiency improvements can be made.

Trane U.S. Inc. will perform the audit at no cost to the district, according to the contract passed by the board of education in February, provided the district opts to accept the company’s proposed improvements after the audit.

If not, the district will owe Trane $223,516 for the audit.

If the district opts to accept Trane’s energy-saving package of capital improvements, the improvements will be made by Trane.

The cost of the projects can be deferred under the energy-performance contract and be covered by the savings in utility costs the improvements earn.

“This seems like it would allow us to save money pretty quickly,” board member Diann Rice said when the contract was adopted.

Some of the improvements could be energy-efficient boilers or geothermal-exchange systems that heat buildings using natural heat from the ground, at facilities with enough space to accommodate the system.

Indeed, the contract’s adoption already earned the district $108,000 in energy rebates from Xcel Energy.

The board of education heard a presentation in December on energy contracting from John Canfield, a consultant to Gov. Bill Ritter’s energy office.

Canfield estimated the district could save as much as $7 million in utility costs in 15 years if the district contracted with an energy-service company such as Trane.

In addition to recommending energy-saving capital improvements, Canfield said the company is responsible for providing guaranteed utility savings for each improvement.

Because the estimated savings would allow the district to reallocate funds from its utilities budget to pay for the cost of the improvements, the district would not incur any additional costs for the projects, Canfield said.

“The capital improvements are supported by energy and maintenance savings,” Canfield said.

“It’s reallocating money used for utilities.”

If the actual savings fell short of the guaranteed savings, it would be the company’s responsibility to cover the shortfall, Canfield said.

The district could conservatively expect to save 20 percent in gas and electric utilities under an energy contract, which would save $670,000 of the $3.35 million the district spends annually, he said.


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