Ameresco, JCI Help Schools with Sweeping Energy-Saving Projects

Energy efficiency companies are stepping up their work to make schools greener with Johnson Controls Inc. and Ameresco Inc. providing the latest examples of far-reaching projects to help schools conserve energy and cut utility costs.

Johnson Controls recently completed the first of 73 solar power installations for schools in Utah. The company joined state energy and school officials in announcing the program on Monday at Hillside Middle School in Salt Lake City School District -- the site of the first array.

The Utah State Energy Program's Solar for Schools initiative is intended to help students learn about energy conservation, technology and renewable resources through first-hand experience with a solar energy system. The National Energy Foundation is providing renewable energy curriculum training for 200 Utah teachers to help support the project.

Under the program, which received $3 million in Recovery Act funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, each of the state's 41 school districts is to receive at lease one solar installation. Johnson Controls is designing and installing all the 5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic systems for the state program.

In Washington State, Ameresco Quantum Inc. is helping 21 school districts and eight community and technical colleges obtain $21 million in grants from the state for energy conservation projects valued at more than $46 million. The projects are to be financed with a combination of grants and performance contracts in which guaranteed annual energy savings help pay off the costs for retrofits, upgrades and other energy efficiency measures. 

Ameresco Quantum, a business unit of Ameresco, is guaranteeing that collectively the projects will save the schools and colleges at least 20 million kWh and $1.7 million each year. The company also estimates the projects and economic activity associated with the work will create 690 jobs (the state grants are based on Washington's Jobs Act) and generate more than $4 million in sales tax revenue. 

Other major Ameresco projects announced this month include:

  • A solar power and energy conservation program unveiled Monday for the city of Englewood, Colo. The solar project will place PV arrays on four city properties that together are expected to generate 300,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually. Following retrofits that amount would account for about 4 percent of the city's electricity use. The retrofits entail an overhaul of HVAC equipment, hot water pumps and lighting and the installation of smart building control systems. Savings from the upgrades are estimated at almost $130,000 annually.
  • A plan to design and build a more than $6.6 million solar PV system at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The project announced last week includes a proposed 550 KW ground-mounted and seven rooftop arrays ranging from 35 KW to 100 KW. Construction is expected to begin early next year and take 10 months to complete.

Image of Hillside School courtesy of the Salt Lake City School District.