Rocky Fork Enterprise

G-J board mulls program to save on energy costs

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The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education approved a resolution Sept. 13 to authorize an energy conservation program that's estimated to save the district $6.9 million over 15 years.

The board selected Limbach Co., also known as Sabo/Limbach, to conduct an energy audit of existing school buildings and to prepare a House Bill 264 Energy Conservation Program package to deliver to the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) for review and approval.

The total cost of about $6.7 million, including interest, would be financed through one of the options available through the H.B. 264 program.

The cost for the project is expected to be recovered through energy savings over a 14-year period.

The audit identifies energy conservation measures to be implemented in school buildings, resulting in energy savings equal to or greater than the cost to implement the program.

Samantha Schneider, who works in business development for Limbach, said the program would allow the school district to make improvements with energy savings without asking voters for additional tax dollars. She said 20 hours were spent at each school to evaluate possible energy conservation measures.

Patty Spangler, Limbach project development engineer, said "mountains" of items were identified for potential savings.

She said an automated logic-control system update is proposed at Blacklick, Goshen Lane, High Point and Royal Manor elementaries, all three middle schools and the high school.

She said replacement lighting also is recommended in gyms, on exteriors and in exit signs.

Goshen Lane and Blacklick would receive new commercial-grade double-pane windows to reduce air leakage.

Goshen and Chapelfield elementaries would receive roof replacements.

Spangler said Jefferson Elementary School still is steam heated, and it would be converted to hot water to heat and cool. She said Middle School East is one of the larger energy users. Proposed work at East includes insulating the roof line at the soffit, reinstating a dual-duct system and adding a drop ceiling.

At Chapelfield, fiberboard ductwork would be replaced with sheet metal.

Spangler said the items chosen for the improvements are based on the cost savings and maintenance savings.

Schneider said the district's capital investment over 15 years would be about $6.7 million. The district's annual payment would be $445,602 over 15 years.

The cost savings of the energy measures are estimated at $6,979,200 over 15 years, for an annual savings of $465,280.

When comparing the energy savings versus the cost, Schneider said, the district still is adding $19,677 annually to its budget.

G-J Superintendent Francis Scruci asked Schneider how Limbach makes money on the deal.

"Our fee is included in the program," she said. "We make money on engineering, design and installation. We do a lot of the work ourselves."

The plan must receive OSFC and Ohio Energy Office approval. After financing is secured, the school board would have to approve a resolution for financing and for a contract.

Schneider said the goal is to have the majority of work completed by the opening of the 2013-14 school year. She said she estimates construction would begin at the end of January, with work being done on one building at a time.

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