Schools award energy contract



Brownstown Central High School is on its way to becoming more energy-efficient.

School board members recently approved Superintendent Greg Walker’s recommendation to award a guaranteed energy savings contract to EMCOR Construction Services of Indianapolis.

A guaranteed energy savings contract is an agreement between a qualified provider and a building owner to reduce the energy and operating costs of a building or a group of buildings by a specified amount. Indiana Code allows these contracts for schools, libraries, municipal water or wastewater utilities operated by a political subdivision and other governing bodies.

Earlier this year, EMCOR and Performance Services, also of Indianapolis, made separate presentations during special school board meetings and visited Brownstown’s schools in hopes of landing the project.

While construction won’t start until June 2017, Walker said he and the school board will be working together in the summer and fall this year to sell bonds. The corporation has debt coming off, so it can do about $7.5 million worth of work in 2017 without raising property taxes.

A good chunk of that money will go toward replacing the heating, cooling and ventilation systems at the high school. Those haven’t been replaced since the building was constructed in 1964.

Most of the money, 85 percent, has to be on energy savings, and the other 15 percent could be put toward items the corporation needs, Walker said.

EMCOR will work with school administrators and facility personnel before and during the project, including doing a complete assessment of the buildings and making recommendations. Windows and doors will be evaluated to see what can be done to make everything energy-efficient.

“We’ll make recommendations on operations of the facilities, but you guys know your buildings better than we do, so we don’t come in and tell you how to operate your buildings,” Kevin Livingston, construction manager for EMCOR, said during one of the January meetings. “We’ll ask you how you operate your buildings, and we’ll make recommendations on maybe how you can do it better.”

EMCOR will look at the corporation’s utility bills over the past two years and compare that energy usage data to a baseline energy usage. It also would look into operational usage of equipment and see how it could run more efficiently and effectively.

EMCOR focuses on the design/build aspect and self-performs 85 percent of the work. The Fortune 500 company has performed construction services on more than 100 guaranteed energy savings contract projects since 1995. Several of those projects were at K-12 Indiana public schools.

In the past couple of years, Brownstown school officials have been able to make security and technology upgrades. A new HVAC system at the high school was next on the list.

In 2020, the corporation will have more debt coming off, so another project could be done at that time, Walker said.

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