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Kansas School District Learns Lessons in Energy Use

The Highland (Kan.) Unified School District 425 has completed $369,000 in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency in its facilities.

The Highland (Kan.) Unified School District 425 has completed $369,000 in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency in its facilities.

The Energy Solutions division of TAC completed the work as a performance contract with the district. TAC guarantees the Highland schools will reduce their utility costs by $35,000 annually, a 40 percent savings.

Highland USD 425’s facilities include an elementary school, a high school and a vocational agriculture building, totaling 85,000 square feet. TAC installed efficient lighting in the schools, as well as a digital energy management system to provide effective control of all the district's mechanical systems.

“TAC provided Highland USD with an affordable financing mechanism that allowed us to complete the updating of our facilities," says Rex Bollinger, superintendent. “Not only do the energy savings completely fund the project, but we have noticeably more comfortable buildings.”

Performance contracting is a turnkey method whereby the design, construction, commissioning and performance measurement are incorporated into one guaranteed, fixed price. Improved facility efficiency, comfort, financial management, and environmental protection are among the long-term results TAC delivers as the single provider accountable for all aspects of the project.

TAC guarantees the amount of savings performance-contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not achieved. Typically, new and more efficient equipment and upgraded facility-automation systems generate the utility savings, as well as maximize energy efficiency and improve occupant comfort. Performance-contracting projects are funded in a variety of ways, including general-obligation bond funds, maintenance-reserve funds, and financing secured against guaranteed energy savings.

The Highland schools had numerous comfort problems in their buildings, as well as high maintenance costs on their equipment. The existing pneumatic controls were faulty and did not stay calibrated. The maintenance staff also had difficulty controlling the multi-zone rooftop units, resulting in pressurization problems and uncomfortable classrooms. Because the lighting at Highland was outdated and inefficient, TAC replaced all of the T-12 fixtures with T-8 fluorescent lights and retrofitted the gym lights with high-bay compact fluorescent lamps.

“Because the Highland district has limited funds, it was not financially capable of getting improvements done on its own, so performance contracting made it possible to update their buildings and make systems run as they were designed,” says Wes McDaniel, vice president of TAC Energy Solutions. “In addition, TAC brought to Highland a level of expertise that, because they are a small district in a very small town, they could not otherwise get. Now, students, faculty and staff enjoy a better learning and working environment as a result of these facility updates.”

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