Efficient and Sustainable Schools

Efficient and Sustainable Schools photo
Over the past several years, the Sachem Central School District entered into three energy performance contracts (EPC) in an effort to reduce energy consumption, reduce our carbon footprint and control future costs. An energy performance contract is provided to school districts in New York State to engage an independent, third-party engineering firm for the purpose of performing a comprehensive energy audit. Such an audit specifically looks for improvements that can be made that fully pay for themselves. The EPC is expected to carry no financial impact to the district’s taxpayers and has the potential to be cash positive. Before any work can be done, the proposed projects are forwarded to the New York State Education Department, where they are reviewed by engineers in NSYED’s Facilities Planning Department to ensure that the construction design complies with all federal, state and local regulations, as well as to confirm the calculations on the projected savings.

The Sachem Central School District has been a leader in these projects and, in 2013, became the first school district in New York State to install a wind turbine. Some of the other projects completed over the past few years to many of our schools include: exterior insulation and new siding, interior lighting system upgrades and occupancy sensors, upgraded energy management system, boiler controllers and boiler replacements, wireless clocks, pipe and valve insulation, steam trap replacements, waste oil heaters in repair garages, computer management system, heat reclaim system, domestic hot water system upgrades, vending machine controls, chiller replacement, synchronous belts, window film and window replacements, and various weatherization projects districtwide.

In March 2015, the district entered into its third EPC, which is a comprehensive project totaling $21.7 million. Included in this contract were a number of energy savings initiatives, including: 1.05 megawatts of cogeneration, 2.19 megawatts of solar power (over 8,600 panels districtwide), replacement of more than 1,000 exterior lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LEDs, water conservation upgrades, replacement of inefficient air handler motors, new boiler/burner controllers, kitchen hood exhaust fan controllers, plug load controllers, A/C compressor controllers, freezer compressor controllers and energy-efficient transformer replacements.

Sachem is utilizing cogeneration plants at both high schools and all three of its middle schools. The plants are natural gas-powered generators that operate during the heating months. These units supplement our existing boilers to produce heat with an added by-product of 1.05 megawatts of electricity.

It is estimated that EPC Phase III will save 8.8 million kilowatt hours annually – the equivalent environmental impact of over 1,998 acres of planted trees, 756,938 gallons of gasoline and 15,460 barrels of oil. Estimated emission reductions in one year would include 14.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 28.5 metric tons of sulfur dioxide. This EPC will also save 291,000 gallons of water from low-flow faucets and aerators that have been installed. Each of these projects demonstrates Sachem’s lasting commitment to efficient and sustainable schools.