Atwater Elementary School District seeks more ways to rack up fewer kilowatt-hours

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 8, 2013 

— The Atwater Elementary School District is in the midst of an energy conservation project at its eight sites, and teachers' input is being sought to determine what the ideal classroom temperature might be.

Part of the cooperative $950,833 energy retrofit was the establishment of an energy efficiency committee. The district's 200 teachers are being asked about the temperatures, and the committee's findings will be presented to trustees for approval at their September meeting.

The district has been working with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., using its "On-Bill Financing Program." The PG&E program allowed the district to replace thermostats, interior and exterior lighting fixtures, and use a $47,000 energy rebate.

Linda Levesque, assistant superintendent of administrative services, said temperatures currently are set at 76 degrees. Depending upon the school site, the number of students in a classroom and the age of the climate control units, that temperature may seem to be too hot, and 74 degrees may be a more ideal setting.

District Superintendent Sandy Schiber said the board ultimately will set the target temperature for school sites but will follow the committee's recommendations, making sure the settings are comfortable and healthy for children.

Trane Inc. of Rocklin was used to conduct the energy retrofit. Peggy Heller and Shaffer schools were 100 percent retrofitted, while the other schools had 80 to 85 percent of their climate control units modified, Levesque said.

Temperature settings for the new climate control units can be set remotely. Alan Boyington, the district's maintenance supervisor, has been involved in replacing old fixtures and finding ideal temperature settings.

PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said the retrofit has helped produce an annual energy savings of 697,741 kilowatt-hours and a $47,820 incentive rebate.

As the savings from the energy efficient retrofit are received, they are applied to the PG&E loan at zero percent interest. The energy retrofit loan can be paid off in about eight years, she said.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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