Officials in the Kingston City School District last month provided details of a $3.9 million energy performance contract they say will transform the district and pay for itself over time.
“What we’re looking at is conservation measures using this energy performance contract,” said Superintendent Paul Padalino during a meeting of the Board of Education held on Wednesday, June 15.
The district has been working since 2020 with Energia, a Smithtown, Long Island-based company that helps school districts achieve energy savings while it protects their interests. In the spring of 2021, Energia evaluated the three proposals that were submitted, selecting Energy Systems Group (ESG), a Newburgh, Indiana firm that specializes in operational efficiency and sustainability.
This summer, the project will enter the design phase ahead of submission to the New York State Education Department. If approved, the district will then seek financing ahead of a construction phase planned for spring of 2023 with a one-year completion target.
Padalino said one of the major components of the plan is to replace the building management systems in each of the schools to provide a single point of control for the entire district.
“Our energy management systems right now are split between several different companies,” he said. “We’re going to consolidate them into one company and have better control of our systems.”
Elsewhere, the project will include boiler replacement in Robert R. Graves and Edward R. Crosby elementary schools, enhanced insulation around mechanical units and piping, and focusing on tightening the building envelope, installing door sweeps, building-level sub-meters, sink aerators, LED lighting conversion and other energy-efficient initiatives.
Padalino added that plug load controllers will also be installed to ensure that devices that are plugged in but not in active use aren’t wasting energy.
“We are retro-fitting all mechanical equipment,” Padalino said.
As part of the project, each of the district’s buildings will be thoroughly studied, producing a list of items in need of correction. A per-building allowance will be used for corrections, with retro-commissioning designed not only to improve energy deficiencies, but also create a more comfortable academic environment.
There will also be an educational component to the plan with intern opportunities and other student engagements to help support conservation-related school projects.
Also included is a solar component to the project, which is still in development. Padalino said that due to the nature of the project, solar was deemed preferable to geothermal energy, which is generated from the Earth’s crust from the formation of the planet and radioactive decay.
“In the past in working with our previous engineers and our architects, geothermal was not one of the things that was recommended, not for renovations,” Padalino said. (Geothermal energy) is for new construction.”
The $3.9 million project is designed to be self-funding over 15 years, with a guaranteed energy savings of around $188,000 annually. Further savings will be realized as the project will tackle some areas, like the boiler replacements, that would have otherwise been part of a standard capital project.
“This project is going to pay for itself long term, beginning with the first year,” Padalino said.
School Board President James Shaughnessy said that because it’s an energy performance project, the district does not need to seek voter approval before proceeding.