NMSD Completes Energy- and Water-Saving Projects
Originally printed in North Mason Life, (C) 2011 Kitsap Sun
By Rodika Tollefson
BELFAIR — North Mason School District is in the finishing stages of a series of energy-saving and water-saving upgrades throughout its facilities. The projects, completed over two phases, have been funded largely through state grants and are expected to save the district about $80,000 per year.
The second phase, which includes new boilers at North Mason High, heaters at Hawkins Middle School and central HVAC controls, will be finished early this fall. The goal is to complete it before school starts, and contractors started work at the end of July.
Districtwide, light fixtures have been upgraded to the more energy-efficient LED or T-5, both interior and exterior. All the energy and mechanical improvements are expected to save about 10 to 15 percent in energy costs.
Earlier this spring, a major water-savings project was also completed at Belfair Elementary School.
The improvements are being done by Ameresco Quantum, a Massachusetts-based company that has been working on similar projects at 50 school districts around Washington and several more in Oregon.
“We guarantee the energy and water savings. We come back over a period of time to make sure the savings are being achieved,” said Michael J. O’Connor, Ameresco’s vice president for the Northwest region. “We fix anything that isn’t achieving the savings target.”
The district has already seen significant savings from the water-saving retrofits at Belfair Elementary, according to Ed Lucas, the district’s executive director of operations. Earlier this spring, new plumbing fixtures including aerators, toilets and urinals were installed at the school.
“The improvement was significant the first month — 56 percent (less water used),” Lucas said. He added that the savings are on target “as originally identified using Ameresco’s Total System Evaluation audit process.”
The Total System Evaluation is a proprietary process developed by Ameresco Quantum that uses “an exhaustive approach to metering and real time evaluation of a customer’s energy-consuming systems,” according to the company. The evaluation is used before conservation measures are identified, and it allows the company to help clients identify more opportunities and capture more grant dollars, Ameresco said.
The average water savings since the water fixtures were changed have been 58 percent at Belfair, with one month coming in at 63 percent less usage. The decrease in water use is also expected to save the district $18,000 in connection fees to the new Belfair sewer, as well as $530 a month after that based on 150 ERU water use. (Mason County Commissioners recently established the ERU at 155 in an interim sewer ordinance).
The water conservation portion of the project cost $16,000.
“It already paid for itself,” said Ameresco’s Deborah Larson, project manager for the North Mason School District upgrades.
Funding for the nearly $1.8 million in projects came through $870,000 in grants and $150,000 in utility incentives. The school district financed the remainder through a state loan program that will use the energy and water savings to pay back the loan. District officials said there will be no net impact on taxpayers because of the loan program.
“The intent of the grant money was to save energy and resources and put people to work — and for school districts to upgrade their facilities at net costs,” said Michael J. O’Connor, Ameresco’s vice president for the Northwest region.
He said the Legislature this year has approved funding for a new round of grants, which will be awarded next year during another competitive process. Lucas said he didn’t know yet whether NMSD would apply for another grant.