Company specializing in energy savings proposes project that could save Garfield Re-2 millions |

Company specializing in energy savings proposes project that could save Garfield Re-2 millions

An international building sustainability company says it can potentially carve out an extra $12 million for the Garfield Re-2 School District by simply switching the district’s light fixtures and going to low-flow bathrooms.

Johnson Controls proposed to the school board on Jan. 25 conducting a districtwide infrastructural audit of all its buildings. The company would specifically identify where the district can make improvements — whether it be to HVAC systems, water flow and lighting — and use those improvements to cut costs.

The school board unanimously passed a project development agreement with JCI. Per this agreement, the district would still have to pay JCI $179,000 for conducting the physical audit if it decides not to pursue any of these maintenance projects.

But, if the district does go through with making capital improvements — which as of right now is about $158 million — the savings on utilities alone could be redirected back into the classroom, a JCI representative said.

One example, JCI Area Engineering Manager Craig Mays said the district is currently paying $1.85 per square foot of water usage for all of its buildings, which includes 10 schools. By going to a low-flow system, he said JCI could get that number down to $1.25.

Costs can also be cut down if the district replaces all of its current fluorescent light fixtures to LED.

“That’s significant savings that we think could translate to somewhere between $400,000-$500,000 in energy and utilities savings each year to apply toward this project,” Mays said.

JCI called it a “budget-neutral” 20-year project. By using these cost-saving mechanisms over the next 20 years, the district can use the $12 million in savings for a big project.

In JCI’s case, it’s also proposing to build a career and technical education learning lab for the district, where it can prepare students for technical careers, JCI Area General Manager Scott Avirett said.

“As the largest HVAC manufacturer and contractor in the world, we’d like to hire as many Garfield graduates as possible, quite frankly,” he said. “We have an inexhaustible need for talent.” 

At first, the board thought this proposal was too good to be true:  JCI, at no current cost, would conduct the audit and essentially save the district millions by implementing optimizing measures to the infrastructure that would make each building more efficient. 

“You don’t really make any payments until we’re finished with construction,” Avirett said. “The savings are offsetting the payments you’re making to the bank.”

JCI and Garfield Re-2 Director of Facilities John Oldham have been discussing this proposal for the past four-five months. Oldham, who has had experience with similar proposals in the past, gave his blessing for JCI, speaking to a large list of deferred maintenance items the district could complete sooner than later if it goes through.

“We think we’re going to have $12 million worth of money we can save,” he said. “But until we do a complete detailed audit of every building, we don’t know exactly how much.

“It could be $15 million.” 

Garfield Re-2 Superintendent Heather Grumley and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Blanford also gave their blessing.

“I don’t see how we don’t do this,” Blanford said.

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