Findlay City Schools has just completed a significant $2.9 million upgrade to a number of school facilities. The project was enabled by a creative combination of grants, rebates, and self-funding energy efficiency upgrades developed through Columbus, Ohio energy firm Plug Smart. "We knew some of our building infrastructure systems like our boilers were reaching end-of-life conditions," states Findlay City Schools Maintenance Supervisor, Dennis Doolittle. "With potential major repairs in our future, we wanted to get ahead of the problems by exploring renovation programs with a number of energy firms. In the end, Plug Smart came back to us with a very creative program that enabled us to actually pay for the project through guaranteed energy savings."
The Plug Smart program took advantage of Ohio House Bill 264 funding that allows school districts to make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings and use the cost savings to pay for those improvements. The program gives districts the ability to borrow funds without having to pass a ballot issue because the funding is secured by "guaranteed" future energy savings from the contract provider.
"Our solution integrated an energy management control system with the boilers along with LED lighting improvements which generated enough energy savings to make the project self-funding," states Will Lytwyn, Energy Management Specialist for Plug Smart. "In addition to energy and maintenance savings, we were able to access over $370,000 in grants and rebates for Findlay City Schools as part of our program."
With energy savings from the new equipment, incentives from the utilities, and operational savings, the project will pay for itself in 12.2 years. Each year after that, over the 25-30 year life of the equipment, Findlay City Schools will realize almost $184,000 in savings -- making the project a net-positive of over $2 million over 25 years.
Improvements to Findlay City Schools included:
--New Condensing Boiler Plants and DDC Controls at Findlay High School, Washington Pre-School, Bigelow Hill Intermediate, Chamberlin Hill Intermediate, and Wilson Vance Intermediate
--LED Lighting Systems at 10 buildings including fixture-level daylight harvesting and occupancy control at the High School
--Kitchen Hood Controls at the High School
--Vending Machine controls throughout the District
The project began taking shape in late 2014 with actual acquisition and construction beginning in 2015. The projects are to be completed by Summer 2016. Expected life span for the boiler systems and controls are 25-30 years. The LED lighting is designed to last 20-plus years while offering significant savings over conventional lighting. "One of the other things we did was to right-size their boiler systems," continued Lytwyn. "They had three 10 million BTU boilers at the High School which was much more than they really needed. We reduced the plant capacity to 12 million BTU's and utilized condensing boilers that can operate at much lower discharge temperatures. These boilers can discharge temperatures as low as 90 degrees during 'shoulder months' that see temperatures in the 40's and 50's, instead of discharging 140 degree water in a non-condensing boiler."
"The renovations were badly needed, and we accomplished them before any major repairs to old systems were required. The energy savings are now in place and will completely fund this project and deliver savings for years to come," concluded Doolittle. "Plug Smart did a great job and gave us 100% transparency on all costs with their open book pricing policy which made us feel good about our stewardship of school resources. They even had a solution for controlling our vending machines that will save us over $1,000 each year."
Plug Smart is one of the country's fasting growing energy services companies with capabilities to tackle the industry's largest and most challenging energy projects and develop self-funding solutions for its clients.