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Sylvania Schools likely to OK $5.4M plan to cut energy costs

Proposal promises to save $531,000 a year on utilities

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The Sylvania Schools district is expected to approve an energy-reduction plan that aims to collectively lower utility bills by more than $500,000 annually.

Laura Sauber, chief financial officer, and Alan Bacho, director of facilities, said the energy improvement plan along with promised cost savings have been reviewed and approved by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, a state agency that reviews capital projects.

In October, Trane Inc., a heating and cooling company, presented an energy-efficiency plan that the school board is likely to approve in early January, Mrs. Sauber said. Trane employees suggested upgrades to lights, water, and control systems that are expected to result in $531,000 in savings annually.

The annual savings are expected to continue for decades after a 15-year payback of the project’s $5.4 million total cost, Mrs. Sauber said, because the efficiency improvements will last well beyond the 15-year period.

The board recently approved a short-term finance plan. Long term, the district plans to issue $5.4 million in bonds, she said. At 7 tonight, the board will consider a payment-plan option in which a portion of the work would be prepaid, for a 5 percent discount, she said.

“We wanted the short-term financing plan in place so we could quickly move forward on the project,” she said.

The project is to begin in early January, with a nine-month completion schedule, Mr. Bacho said. Fourteen buildings — 12 schools and two administrative offices — will be upgraded, a move expected to reduce the district’s “carbon footprint.”

The main cost-saver is to be a reduction in electric use through lighting retrofits in every building, plus parking lots and gyms.

“Lighting is the highest-consuming areas,” he said.

Occupancy sensors will be installed, automatically turning off lights in empty rooms; the district also will use LED lights.

The second-largest cost savings, officials said, will be from installation of a central control system for heating and cooling.

The system, accessible by mobile devices, can monitor and adjust inconsistencies in temperature, such as cold or hot spots, a problem Trane officials noted in their review of district buildings.

The system will let district facilities’ personnel know temperature adjustments have been made, Mr. Bacho.“That is not the case in some equipment controls we have now” at various buildings, which at times did not adjust temperatures as programmed, he said.

The work includes plumbing upgrades to conserve water and energy, as well as replacing boilers and water pipes.

The newer elementary schools — Central Trail, Hill View, and Maplewood — had lighting control, geothermal heating and cooling, and efficient plumbing, but they did not have LED lighting.

“In regards to LED lights, some of the technology is now advanced and affordable enough for us to implement. The cost has come down and the reliability has gone up,” Mr. Bacho said.

Trane’s plan includes an energy-savings guarantee.

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