School District 16 receives energy efficiency award from state office
PARACHUTE ” Garfield County School District 16 was rewarded recently for its participation in the Rebuild Colorado Program headed by the Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC).
School District Superintendent Dr. Steve McKee accepted the award Sept. 15, at a presentation ceremony held at Gov. Bill Owens executive residence in Denver. The OEMC’s awards recognized projects that increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.
“Friday’s event was great,” said OEMC’s Senior Program Manager, Linda Smith. “We had about 98 percent attendance, that’s what happens when you have it at the governor’s mansion.”
This was only the second time that entities such as school districts have been given awards “the first was in 1999. From now on, Smith hopes it will be an annual event.
Director of OEMC, Drew Bolin, handed out the Energy Champion awards on Friday. Recipients of the awards participated in the program, which demonstrates how energy efficiency projects bring lower energy usage and costs, so that savings can be focused on other priorities, Bolin stated in a press release.
All projects represent achievements in energy efficiency through various methods. Examples are building design, upgrading existing buildings with energy performance contracting or day-to-day energy management. Energy performance contracting eliminates the use of capital budgets as funding for annual energy costs. These contracts alone have accounted for $9 million in energy savings around the state.
District 16 completed $2.5 million worth of energy efficient upgrades to all of the Parachute schools. Improvements included replacing the old windows in the High school with new ones and upgrading the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems at all of the schools to new systems that are more efficient. This work creates a better learning environment for the children, too. Many other upgrades were completed throughout the district as well.
The unique way that the upgrades were financed is why the school district received the award, said School District 16 Director of Business Services, Rose Belden.
“It was an awesome way to save money and to upgrade the schools at the same time,” she said.
The district applied for $2.5 million of Colorado’s 2004-2005 allocation of Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) funds to retrofit the districts buildings with the energy efficient equipment. However, the school district had two requirements to meet to qualify for the special bond. One was to have a partner that would be willing to put up 10 percent ($250,000), which EnCana Oil and Gas USA graciously did. The other requirement was having a minimum of 35 percent of students on the reduced or free lunch program.
The funds will be paid back over a 15 year period like a normal bond. However, because the district took advantage of an issuance of lease purchase certificate, backed by a pledge of existing district assists, there will be no interest expense to the district over the period of repayment. That allows the payments to come from the district’s capital reserve fund and from the savings yielded by the energy retrofit, paid from the general fund.
The school district estimates the savings from the upgrades to be around $96,000 per year.
“Not only did we save on our energy bill,” Belden said, “But we are paying off the equipment with the savings, too.”
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