The Saugerties Central School District’s Board of Education last month authorized spending up to $3.15 million in an energy performance contract with Honeywell, of Charlotte, NC. The program is designed to study facilities districtwide to look at potential energy savings, which in theory, could pay for the total cost of the contract in as little as five years.
“If they do the work, it earns its money back over a set amount of years,” explained superintendent Kirk Reinhardt. “If this was in your house and you replaced all of your light bulbs and whatever else, you would have to prove that in five years, whatever you put out, you got the money back. There’s no cost to you. So kind of a similar parallel.”
The Honeywell proposal beat out pitches from the John W. Danforth Company and from Trane. Honeywell’s proposal was the unanimous choice of the district’s visitation committee. The school board approved the contract during a meeting at the Cahill Elementary School on Tuesday, December 10.
“We picked them based on what they projected they could save us,” Reinhardt said. “And then now they’ve got to come back and actually show that that’s what they’re doing.”
This week, Reinhardt said the full scope of the project is still being determined, and the onus is upon Honeywell to convince school officials that money spent on their recommendations would be made back in energy savings. The review is likely to include everything from electrical outlets and lightbulbs to ventilation and sealing.
“One of the things they talked about, for instance, is all the heat is controlled by a computer,” Reinhardt said. “So things come on at the right time, things go off at the right time, the heat is totally controlled. And that’s one of the things they look at. They’ll look for any type of electrical drains. I assume they’re also going to look at our heating systems and how efficient are they. It’s all got to be energy related.”
Honeywell is expected to begin its review of the district’s facilities some time in the spring.
“Now that we’ve approved them to actually do the first step and actually come back to us with their really tight plan as they’ll have been in the buildings and everything,” Reinhardt explained. “They have to come back to us and say, Yes, we gave you a proposal, but this is actually what we know we can do. They’ll come in and they look at every building we have, everywhere we could save energy, all of that.”
Energy costs across all school facilities in the district’s 2019-20 budget include electricity ($305,017), natural gas ($154.640) and fuel oil ($76,615); each of the electricity and fuel oil lines were projected to cost around $10,000 less than in the 2018-19 school year. Those numbers are unlikely to remain static over the next five years and could rise or fall.
Reinhardt said energy costs are generally high in Saugerties in part due to seasonal extremes in the Northeast. Also, many of the district’s facilities are old.
“I think this is why it’s such a good thing for a district to look into this,” Reinhardt said. “Everything we can save our taxpayers is a great thing.”
He hoped the energy efficiency would also take the environment into account as well.
“If we’re saving the environment, saving money, being more efficient, and having all of those things, those are great,” Reinhardt said.