By Rachel Leber
CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. — As energy performance becomes increasingly important in modern times, schools nationwide are jumping on board to find ways to save on energy usage and costs. The Connellsville Area School District in Pennsylvania is no exception and is now making energy efficiency a reality in its schools.
The Connellsville Area School District entered into an energy-performance contract with New York-headquatered ABM — a facility solutions provider serving the education industry — that launched in July 2017 and is scheduled for completion by October 2018. The energy-performance contract is projected to save the district more than $26 million in energy and operating costs over a 15-year period.
The energy-performance contract is not Connellsville’s first effort to create energy savings. Earlier in 2017, the district consolidated its eight elementary schools into four in a continued effort to align its operational budget with enrollment and improve the learning environment for its students.
Since then, the district has been using the energy-performance project to further cut operational costs without sacrificing educational opportunities as part of a three-year strategic financial recovery plan. In addition to savings, the project will enable the district to implement improved educational and technological initiatives.
The energy-performance program came to the Connellsville Area School District at a good time, as the school had accumulated a $6 million deficit between 2015 and 2016, according to Robert Geletko, the district’s assistant to the superintendent for finance and operations.
“The district was already in the process of getting things in order, looking at everything we were doing and what could be improved,” said Geletko. “We had to find a solution that enabled us to leverage resources that we were already putting in. That’s when ABM showed up — during the tail end of this process — and began discussions with us in January 2016. I can only see more districts taking advantage of this opportunity in the future.”
ABM worked with Connellsville Area School District schools “very collaboratively” from the beginning, according to Geletko, and helped the school to figure out where they can find the most value for what Geletko described as “declining infrastructure,” what the school spends on a daily basis and how best to reinvest those dollars.
The energy and operational savings will be achieved by implementing infrastructure upgrades to multiple facilities in the district, which includes the newly consolidated four elementary schools, the Connellsville Area High School, Connellsville Area Middle School, and the Connellsville Area Career and Technology Center.
Some district-wide improvements that will be made to Connellsville schools include the replacement of fluorescent lighting fixtures with new energy-efficient LED lighting, building envelope upgrades as well as upgrading security and safety features such as cameras and automated door lock systems. New HVAC systems designed to function at high efficiency will be installed to upgrade and rejuvenate old systems, with state-of-the-art nonproprietary controls. Upgrading water conservation measures will take place district-wide as well, with three schools benefiting from tankless hot-water heaters.
The district will install 37 new rooftop air-conditioning units at its four elementary schools as well as install new roofing overlayed at Bullskin Elementary and West Crawford Elementary schools. Additionally, upgrades will be made in six of the district’s kitchen areas with new walk-in coolers and freezers, and kitchen hood controls.
To read the entire article, check out the March/April issue of School Construction News.