South Carolina Project to Save $28M in District Energy Costs

By SCN Staff

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Richland County School District One in Columbia, S.C. is implementing a district-wide comprehensive infrastructure modernization project that will see a savings of $28 million in energy costs over the next two decades.

Facing deferred maintenance on critical infrastructure in several buildings related to aged lighting and outdated HVAC equipment—and to provide healthier and safer learning environments—the school district is partnering with Schneider Electric to implement an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) that will reduce utility and operational costs by 24 percent across 15 district buildings.

Those savings will pay for further upgrades over time, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. As part of the program, Schneider Electric will partner with its local manufacturing facility within the district, employing more than 750 workers, to provide student learning opportunities and further partnerships to help the district.

“Providing a safe, healthy and enjoyable learning environment for our students and teachers is among our top priorities, especially now with new and changing regulations around indoor learning environments,” said Richland School District One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon, in a statement.

“This program with Schneider Electric will allow us to make needed upgrades to our buildings in a much smarter, more efficient and, most importantly, fiscally responsible way.”

Part of the project aims to tackle indoor air quality by updating the HVAC equipment to efficiently move air, control temperature and increase outdoor air exchange rates. With indoor environment specifications being rolled out by government organizations, the district is laying the groundwork for better control of how air moves through all facilities and designing more specific and improved points of filtration. The changes will allow the district to be responsive to new regulations.

Added Raymond Perkins, Richland School District One Director of Facility Services, “These are upgrades being recommended to all school districts, but it can also be costly to do. We have many needs in addition to air quality, so finding a way to bring all these distinct pieces together made all the difference.”

Schneider Electric will implement modern technologies that will generate savings and, in turn, create a revenue stream to help fund improvements across the district, such as:

  • updated HVAC technology for cleaner environments and to regulate fresh outdoor air;
  • full district-wide telecommunications overhaul, improving district-wide emergency communications and providing flexibility for distance learning;
  • interior and exterior lighting upgrades to bring emergency lighting up to current building code standards;
  • replacement and upgrade of critical electrical infrastructure to reduce maintenance time and extend the life of the outdated system;
  • upgrade and replacement of water and restroom fixtures to further reduce waste;
  • installation of a “smart-plugs” network to manage high-load devices and improve energy efficiency, and;
  • building envelope improvements to renew aging buildings to better withstand extreme seasonal weather patterns and increase comfort for students and staff.

“Our innovative solutions and transparent approach to energy infrastructure upgrades will provide tremendous savings for Richland County School District One,” said Justin Shutt, Schneider Electric Business Development Executive, in a statement.

“Plus, as a local employer, Schneider Electric is proud to be supporting the Richland County community by providing long-term cost savings to the school district and boosting the local economy with jobs that support the environment.”