When one Mississippi school district needed to accommodate a growing student population, administrators envisioned building a new high-tech, energy-efficient high school. A bond referendum raised $30 million for construction of the new high school, but it wasn’t enough to deliver everything on the district’s wish list.
Enter Johnson Controls, who suggested the district use future energy savings to overcome the funding shortfall. Through an energy performance contract (EPC), efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning systems were installed during construction with the expectation that projected energy and operational savings would more than make up for the first costs associated with creating a more sustainable facility. In addition, a Metasys® building management system was installed to control and monitor critical energy systems.
The result? The district’s new high school expects to reduce energy use by the equivalent of more than 200 homes annually; decrease its carbon footprint by the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by 537 acres of pine forest annually; save $6 million in energy and operational costs over 15 years; and achieve LEED® Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the first certification of a high school in Mississippi.
The success of projects like this starts with planning—inviting a cross-functional team that includes community members to recognize challenges, identify key issues and priorities, create a shared vision and establish a strategy to implement that vision. And it requires creativity in the way buildings are used, inside and out, in the approach to long-term planning and in funding options that look beyond bonds and grants.
In addition to EPCs, school systems looking for alternative funding mechanisms can consider contingent payment financing, public-private partnerships (P3), property assessed clean energy financing and equipment finance agreements. Additionally, a vendor like Johnson Controls can help them apply for grants and rebates.
In the end, school systems that practice sustainability through energy efficiency efforts, incorporate technology into their operations, and focus on long-term planning, create a comfortable, secure environment that encourages learning. Vendors like Johnson Controls can help by providing planning tools, building systems, equipment and technology along with innovative financing solutions that make performance infrastructure improvements a reality, with minimal impact on operating budgets today and tomorrow.
Christopher joined Johnson Controls in May 2016, with responsibility for leading the North American strategy, growth and implementation of the K-12 business. He earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations from Towson University and attended Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business.
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The district has teamed up with Johnson Controls on multiple energy performance contracts, which has allowed the district to reduce operating costs and improve comfort, offset the costs of major building improvements with the energy and operational savings, and implement a solar energy system that doubles as a learning tool. Efficiency improvements made here guarantee energy and operational savings of $6.9 million over 15 years.
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