Project saves county schools $500k

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

Three years into an energy improvement project, the Yazoo County School District announced that it reached a half a million dollars in savings last week.

Schneider Electric presented the county district with a Savings Milestone Award last Wednesday to highlight the $500,000 in savings from a comprehensive facilities improvement grant that began in 2015.

"We're excited to work with Schneider Electric to not only make much-needed upgrades to the learning environment, but reinvest savings in tangible changes that benefit our students and staff," said Superintendent Dr. Ken Barron. "We are guaranteed to see over $2.4 million in savings throughout our partnership and will continue to work with Schneider to see more positive results in the future."

For many years, Yazoo County schools struggled with a growing list of deferred maintenance challenges, including equipment on the verge of failure and outdated technology.  To address these issues, the district turned to Schneider Electric to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and develop a customized energy efficiency plan with about $4.2 million in infrastructure improvements.  Savings came from a wide variety of measures to three of its buildings that improved energy efficiency by 26 percent and enhanced the learning environment, including:

-Brightening classrooms, hallways, gyms and outdoor spaces with energy efficient lighting and controls

-Streamlining operations with a new district-wide building automation system

-New HVAC and boiler system and updated drop ceiling to improve occupant comfort, including a high efficiency VRF System at the high school for increased indoor air quality

-An IT enterprise management system to reduce energy consumption from computers

-Updated plumbing fixtures to conserve water usage

It is estimated that a total savings of $6.4 million will be reported over the 20-year partnership between the county district and Schneider Electric. It is also guaranteed to about $291,000 in annual savings.

The project was funded through an energy savings performance contract, which uses the cost savings achieved to pay for infrastructure improvements.  This enables cash-strapped school districts to tackle deferred maintenance projects and much-needed modernization upgrades without raising taxes in the local community.