Danville schools eye program to cut costs, save energy | Danville

Replacing florescent lighting as well as updating heating and air control units could save Danville Public Schools more than $2 million over a period of several years.

“We felt like it was a ‘win-win’ for us to look at these two systems,” said Chief Operations Officer Kathy Osborne.

Danville Public Schools is considering funding a $4.3 million energy performance contract with the Trane energy company, with a projected savings of $6.6 million over 15 years. The contract would replace all florescent lights with L.E.D. bulbs, as well as upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning control system.

A few months ago, with the school board’s approval, the school district entered a memorandum of understanding with Trane to perform a survey of the district’s systems. Trane looked at plumbing, lighting, heating, air conditioning and several other utility systems in the district.

“They look at all of your systems,” Osborne said.

After the survey, Trane said the lighting and air conditioning control software were the two biggest areas of improvement for the district.

Osborne said the heating and air software system acts as a centralized way of controlling the temperature at each of the school buildings, which would come in handy when employees weren’t in those buildings.

“You don’t have to be on the system to check it,” she said.

Additionally, the light replacements would save the school district labor and parts costs, in addition to using less energy. Osborne said the district currently stocks 19 different kinds of fluorescent bulbs, each with different life spans. All of the L.E.D. bulbs are guaranteed for 10 years.

“We wouldn’t have to have as big an inventory, and if one goes out, we just let them know and they send us another one free of charge,” Osborne said.

Trane and other energy companies have expressed interest in a project with Danville schools before, but Osborne said plans were always scrapped due to budgetary concerns.

“It has never been quite right for the school division to move forward,” Osborne said.

Pittsylvania County also took advantage of the energy contract program in 2004 and most recently in 2016, School Superintendent Mark Jones said.

“This last project that we did has a guaranteed annual energy savings of $220,158 from 2015 to 2032,” Jones said.

During the 2016 project, county schools installed L.E.D. bulbs, updated heating and air controls in eight schools and replaced a boiler at Twin Springs Elementary School.

County school board chairman Calvin Doss said the contract allows the district to pay for improvements up front or in deferred payments.

“It allows you to update a lot of things and not impact the budget,” Doss said.

Danville school board members have expressed interest in a similar financing contract at recent school board meetings. During a meeting last month, the board approved the Davenport & Company financial group to send out a request for proposals on how to fund the project. Osborne said she would present the group’s finding during the Sept. 21 meeting.

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