IRSD approves energy audit for all schools

Date Published: 
April 7, 2017

With a goal of conserving energy, the Indian River School District will invest in an energy audit with Trane USA Inc. through the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility.

The audit will include every district school and cost a minimum of $71,500.

“I think it’s a very prudent use of taxpayer money,” said Joseph Booth, IRSD supervisor of buildings and grounds. “This is a project that we had been working on to take advantage of what the State’s doing, to reduce our energy cost at Indian River School District.”

The investment-grade audit includes a detailed report that will help the IRSD find potential lenders to fund the bigger energy-saving projects. Low-interest loans could be repaid with the savings from the energy reduction.

“If we go through with this, they’re probably going to recommend millions of dollars’ worth of work,” for big and small projects, Booth said.

Projects could range from small to massive: LED lighting; installing energy-efficient mechanical equipment; and switching from oil to natural gas. But the IRSD doesn’t have to invest in those major projects. The school board can make that decision later.

If the IRSD does not pursue the projects, the district gets to keep the report but is responsible for repaying $71,500, which is half of the audit’s $143,000 total value. (That cost can be funded with minor capital improvement funds.)

Booth said he thinks it’s a great investment.

“I think we’re getting something that should prove to be very useful, whether or not we go through with the whole project,” said Booth.

If the school board pursues the recommended projects, the audit cost is “blended in with the energy savings. … It’s all mixed into the money that we’re borrowing,” Booth said.

This was not a hasty decision. For months, the project was deliberated by the Board of Education and the Buildings & Grounds Committee as they also navigated budget cuts and two referendum votes.

The audit could be especially timely, since the State is considering reductions to school energy funds.

The IRSD Board of Education unanimously approved the move on March 27 during its public session. However, the Trane presentation and board discussion occurred during executive session, said Board President Charles Bireley, because the decision would ultimately depend on IRSD’s discussion of personnel cuts, and because the contract oversight would become one person’s job duty.

More details, including a timeline, will be determined in April.

The audit agreement is online at www.boarddocs.com/de/irsd/Board.nsf/Public (click “Meetings” “March 27, 2017,” “View the Agenda” and “4.07 ESCO Seiberlich Trane Proposal.”