The three high schools and nine elementary schools in the Cumberland County School District are united by a common mission: To empower each student with the skills to be a productive citizen. This mission is supported by the belief that providing a safe, secure, positive environment is essential for optimal learning for all students. When an aging infrastructure, leaky fifty-year-old windows and high utility costs threatened the district’s ability to carry out its mission, the school sought help to find funding and to complete their much-needed upgrades.
Classrooms at two elementary schools in the Cumberland County School district had a rather unusual décor during cold weather months. That’s when the facility manager hung quilts over the fifty-year-old windows to keep the cold air out. Major system upgrades were needed throughout the district as maintenance and utility costs continued to rise for the aging infrastructure. With no funding available to pay for the improvements, the Cumberland County School district was faced with the challenge of financing the project.
The Cumberland County school board interviewed several energy service companies and reviewed their proposals before selecting Trane for the upgrade project. Trane assembled a self-funding $5M PACT (Performance Agreement for Comfort from Trane) project that addressed infrastructure needs at all twelve schools and the central office building. The district leveraged the future energy savings guaranteed by the Trane agreement to pursue funding through the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative (EESI). The EESI established a grant and sustainable loan program to provide funding for energy efficient projects for the 136 public K-12 school districts in Tennessee. School districts submit applications for grant and loan approval to EESI. Grant and loan funds are provided to the school districts on a reimbursement basis, based on documented qualifying project expenses. Trane and the school district worked with EESI to identify projects, apply for funding and submit the necessary documentation to receive payment. Their efforts paid off and grants were successfully written for approximately $800K from the Tennessee EESI and the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Upgrade Program. Three separate low- and no-interest loans from the Tennessee EESI Program were also obtained.
Improving student comfort
The upgrade included an uncommon self-funding project component, new windows at two elementary schools. The energy efficient, weather-stripped windows keep the cold air out and classrooms comfortable during chilly winter months.
Reducing energy costs and streamlining building control
A new energy efficient HVAC water source heat pump system, two new high-efficiency boilers and sixty-one classroom units were installed at one of the high schools. The improvements also included plumbing upgrades, vending machine energy controls and the replacement of existing T-12 fluorescent fixtures with more energy efficient T-8 lighting. Trane Tracer Summit® building automation systems (BAS) were installed throughout the school district facilities. The BAS provides integrated building control through a dedicated PC workstation. Facility managers use the BAS to program and manage climate, lighting, energy consumption and scheduling. Load rolling, demand limiting and optimal start energy management, as well as daily tasks, such as responding to alarms, viewing reports and trends or changing equipment controls can be performed using the systems.
Measuring and verifying results
Energy savings for each district facility is continually measured and verified. Utility information is collected from invoices, along with weather data, and entered into a software system, which assembles the current energy consumptions and makes comparisons to the facility baseline. Quarterly reports provide the baseline profile (the amount of energy the facility used prior to the project), the utility target (the amount of projected energy savings due to the improvements) and the actual energy consumption (weather adjusted) from the utility bills. The reports assess the performance of the individual facilities and the PACT agreement as a whole. Any areas that are not meeting targets are investigated and any issues are corrected. A Trane Service Agreement provides periodic maintenance to help ensure the efficient performance of the HVAC system and controls.
HVAC, window, lighting and plumbing upgrades, made possible by a Trane PACT agreement and funding from the Tennessee Energy Efficient Schools Initiative and the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Upgrade Program, positively impacted the learning environment and energy efficiency of the Cumberland County School District facilities. Measurement and verification reports show the upgrades on track to provide $330,000 in first-year savings. "Trane put together an effective performance contract to guarantee savings to address Cumberland County Schools’ much needed capital improvements," said EESI director, Ron Graham. "The Energy Efficient Schools Council was unanimous in their decision to fund this project, based on persuasive communication from the school district and a professional project submission from Trane."
About Cumberland County Schools
A Trane-sponsored Light Switch Sticker Contest was held for all district students to encourage occupants to “turn off the lights” when leaving a room. One high school and one elementary student were each awarded a $1,000 Series EE US Savings bond for their winning designs, now being used on all light switches throughout the school system.