K-12 public school projects & tips to streamline approval

Oregon K-12 public schools receive funding for construction and renovations from two sources under SB 1149. To help navigate funding considerations, Energy Trust’s Business Lighting program partners with The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) on K-12 public school projects to complete SB-1149 funding evaluations and streamline participation in both programs. 

The process is simple: file your lighting project with the Business Lighting program and let them know the customer wants to pursue SB-1149 funding. Once estimates have been reviewed or the project is approved, the Business Lighting team shares the project documentation with ODOE to complete their evaluation. After the SB-1149 assessment is complete, the customer receives a combined Energy Trust of Oregon and ODOE funding summary for their project.  

Due to the partnership with ODOE, the sorting rules for K-12 public schools are different than other commercial lighting projects. For K-12 public school projects seeking SB 1149 funding, any upgrades to an existing building fall to Energy Trust’s Existing Buildings program and any new additions to a building, complete teardowns and rebuilds, or ground-up construction, are handled by Energy Trust’s New Buildings program. Some projects may even have both New Buildings and Existing Buildings scopes. This differs slightly from non-K-12 public school projects. While it may sound complicated, Energy Trust, will review your project, help you determine the correct pathway, and work to make the process seamless, no matter the scope.   

Additionally, the partnership with ODOE allows for projects receiving incentives through the instant incentive program to be eligible for SB-114 funding. The program works with ODOE to ensure customers receive funding from both programs regardless of the project pathway. ODOE can also reimburse additional project costs for lift rentals, labor hours (including self-install), and other expenses related to the project. Any expenses beyond the lamp and fixture purchases must be submitted to ODOE directly to receive reimbursement.   

Now let’s touch on three ways to streamline your K-12 Public School project approval and avoid delays.  

  1. Audit of existing lighting – One of the primary challenges for projects that have gone through design with an architect, engineer, or lighting designer is that demo plans may document the existing fixture location, type, and quantity, but they do not document lamp type, number of lamps per fixture, or lamp/fixture wattage. Both Energy Trust and ODOE require documentation of the existing lighting to evaluate energy-savings and incentives. Often, these requirements are overlooked when a project goes through design and can delay project approval and put incentives at risk. Ensuring the existing conditions have been documented will put your project on the fast track to approval.  
  2. Project costs – There are two primary ways to document project costs: Standard invoices or a schedule of values (SOV). In the case of an SOV, it is a best practice to add a line item for each eligible measure, such as ‘EEM1 (Energy Efficiency Measure) Fixtures’ and ‘EEM2 Controls’. Listing the EEMs on the SOV ensures that all parties track the cost of installation so project costs can easily be determined.  
  3. Photos – Photos are not always required for projects; however, it is recommended that you capture images of the spaces and fixtures that will be upgraded for projects of any size. By capturing photos, you can quickly reference and support project documentation, answer questions, and help prevent unnecessary return site visits. We recommended taking an image of the entire space and one of each fixture type from below. It is also helpful to provide a photo of the lamps in addition to the fixture if the fixture can easily be accessed and opened. Otherwise, a picture in which you can see the lamp silhouettes through the lens will suffice.   

Knowing how K-12 public school projects are different from standard commercial lighting projects, understanding our partnership with ODOE, and remembering the tips to streamline your project approval can help reduce delays and increase the return on investment for your company and customers. 

Please contact the Energy Trust Business Lighting program at lighting@energytrust.org if you have questions or need additional information.