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Douglas schools implement energy projects

Staff Reports

In order to save money in energy and maintenance costs and to take advantage of the limited funding options available, the Douglas County School District is moving forward with energy services projects throughout the district.

In February, the school board approved working with Ameresco, an energy services company, to audit all of the district’s schools and administrative buildings.

In June, based on the findings of the audit, the district signed a performance contract with Ameresco for about $5 million.

The audit identified several energy conservation measures which, once implemented, will save the district more than $450,000 annually.

These savings are guaranteed by Ameresco and will fund the project debt service, which means this energy services project will pay for itself through the savings it achieves.

Only short-term projects that improve energy output, such as updated lighting, qualify as energy services projects.

The district has a number of capital projects that do not fit the energy services profile. These projects, which include health and safety projects, have been identified by the Keep Improving Douglas Schools committee, which recommended a bond to fund the projects.

In looking for alternate methods to fund projects, the district found it could use a performance contract to generate savings that pay for the project with no up-front costs and a minimum guaranteed outcome.

The process has a guaranteed maximum project cost with no change orders and a concise construction schedule.

The federal government has completed more than $4 billion in performance contract projects and has just approved spending $50 billion more over the next 10 years.

In Nevada, Washoe County School District has completed six phases of work with Ameresco amounting to approximately $18 million in completed projects. In addition, the City of Henderson, Department of Corrections, Washoe County, City of Reno, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Clark County School District are all in the process or have completed projects utilizing a performance contract.