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October 2008 -
Design & Construction
Guide Addresses Financing for EnergySmart Schools
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the EnergySmart Schools program have released a new Guide to Financing EnergySmart Schools. The guide addresses perceived and real financial barriers associated with construction of new high-performance schools, as well as energy-efficiency renovations and retrofits of existing facilities.
"Many executives believe that constructing a high-performance, energy-smart school will cost more than a conventionally built school,” says Richard Moorer, the DOE associate undersecretary. “However, with the right planning, there may be little to no additional upfront cost.
"Energy-efficient buildings and school districts can enjoy lasting benefits from lower energy and operating costs, improved environmental performance, and an enhanced ability to serve as centers of community life."
The nation's 93,000 K-12 schools spend about $8 billion annually on energy for facilities. Rising energy costs, coupled with declining property tax revenues, are increasing budgetary pressures on school districts. These challenges make energy-saving strategies a real opportunity for schools undertaking new construction and major renovations.
For instance, an energy-efficient school district with 4,000 students could save up to $160,000 in energy costs. But school officials consistently have cited financing issues as major barriers to planning and constructing high-performance schools.
The 33-page guide details the process of financing energy-efficient school renovations, retrofits, and new construction. It describes a variety of financing mechanisms. The guide's topics include:
• principles of financing high-performance schools, such as determining project objectives, performing a life-cycle-cost analysis, and selecting a cost-benefit analysis method
• making a business case of high-performance schools
• non-energy benefits of energy-efficient schools
• internal financing
• debt financing
• leasing arrangements
• energy-savings performance contracts.
The guide is designed to help managers, administrators and school boards to do the initial planning and find the best options for financing their district's school construction. The guide is co-branded by the Association of School Business Officials International and endorsed by the National School Boards Association.