Board of Ed Considers $6.6M Energy Saving Plan

The town would not have to bond or even invest money into an energy-saving project that would pay for itself over each of 15 years, according to a proposal now before the Board of Education.

An energy-saving project proposed for all seven of Darien's public school buildings would pay for itself each fiscal year over the course of 15 years and result in less energy usage and newer, upgraded building equipment, the Board of Education was told on Tuesday.

The proposal, put together by Honeywell under the supervision of an independent consulting company which would help monitor it, involves $6.6 million worth of changes, including replacement of the old, pneumatic-tube system of heating controls in some public schools.

Those pneumatic tubes, vital to the heating systems of some school buildings, will need to be replaced, schools Finance Director Richard Huot told the Board of Education. This would be one way of replacing them without costing taxpayers any money, he said.

The proposal is longer and larger in scope than any energy-saving project he's ever worked with, Huot said.

Board of Education Chairperson Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross said she was unimpressed by the 15-year length of the payback period. Other energy-saving projects have been proposed with much shorter periods in which school districts would save enough on energy for the project to pay for itself, she pointed out.

Those projects involved expenditure in one fiscal year that would be countered with energy savings in future years. This proposal would involve no borrowing of money by the town.

The Board of Finance may decide it wants to fund the proposed projects in some other way, Hagerty-Ross said.

School Superintendent Stephen V. Falcone said he thought the proposal would benefit the school district, but he suggested that the Board of Education and perhaps Board of Finance might want to take a tour of some nearby school district that had adopted a similar plan.

Here are the 10 areas that Honeywell would work on if it gets the contract:

  1. Replace various lighting equipment, motion sensors and vending machines with more energy-efficient equipment.
  2. Replace various pieces of heating equipment, including boilers, burners, fans and radiators.
  3. Upgrade systems that monitor and control building energy use.
  4. Replace or improve doors to better insulate buildings.
  5. Insulate hot-water pipes or improve insulation for them.
  6. Upgrade heating system steam traps.
  7. Replace windows.
  8. Improve efficiency of chiller plants—part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of each school building.
  9. Help the school district participate in the ISO-NE Demand Reduction program which reduces electricity use when the electric grid is experiencing difficulties.
  10. Help the school district conserve water.
John O Forlivio January 23, 2013 at 11:29 AM
I heard the ice rink had a better solution with an 18 month payback . It included natural gas units that generate heat and electricity
max January 23, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Sub meter vending machines and bill vendor for electricity plus rent.
max January 23, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Hagerty-Ross seems to have the correct outlook. I suspect 15 yrs is a best case and that some of the number in the assumptions should be reviewed and adjusted to create a range of break even (change growth rate of electricity pricing, adjust usage numbers up and down, etc).
max January 23, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Heating pipes are NOT insulated? That should be an obvious item that should have been discover and solved internally, with out an outside audit.
max January 23, 2013 at 02:00 PM
What about adjusting the daytime temperature down to 67 and wear a sweater? How much would that save? Probably more than canceling the kindergarten bus run. Thank you jimmy carter.
Jill Saverine January 24, 2013 at 01:05 AM
I wonder if they have considered solar power at all? I'm sure all of the schools receive a good amount of sunshine on the roof throughout the day. It would be a way to save money as any excess power (on the weekends and in the summer for example) could be sold back to the power grid. In addition it is cleaner for the environment.
Finance Guy January 24, 2013 at 04:11 AM
I'm confused. How exactly does this work? How does the contractor get paid to make the changes? Where does the money come from? We don't pay him upfront? I'd like more details.


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