Commercial SW Washington

Project spotlight: Small district outreach

Existing Buildings’ small district outreach initiative for schools will continue in 2016 to provide the high touch support critical to realizing energy savings at schools.

A recent project at the Multnomah Education Service District, MESD, is a prime example of how a motivated and dedicated small school district, with assistance from an Energy Trust trade ally contractor and support from Energy Trust, can develop, implement and fund a critical project.

“Although the name Multnomah may bring to mind a large organization, the MESD is really more the size of a small school district, operating five to seven buildings, with a total footprint of between 200,000 and 300,000 square feet, depending on the year,” said Mark Wheeler, retired supervisor of MESD’s facility services.

The district’s specialty is providing services to school districts within the Multnomah County area, including special education services, nursing services, at-risk youth programs and an outdoor school program. “While we may be small in the footprint of our buildings, our services are needed and valued by all of our constituencies,” said Wheeler.

“MESD first began working with Energy Trust of Oregon in 2008 with a major lighting retrofit of their main building on campus. Energy Trust helped cover the cost of changing over the T12 lighting with T8 fixtures, and updated first generation CFLs to current standards. The incentives offered by Energy Trust were a primary factor in pursuing this first project,” said Wheeler in a letter to Energy Trust. “Since that time, MESD has pursued several more energy related projects, including control upgrades, boiler replacement and chiller replacement, all supported to one degree or another by Energy Trust. The net result of this has been a significant savings in energy and money, much of which MESD has been able to redirect to services for MESD attendees.”

Bringing the Energy Trust relationship full circle, Wheeler worked with Tom Baxter at trade ally TraneOregon and Tom Hogstad, Existing Buildings outreach manager to replace MESD’s pneumatic control system on their main building with DDC controls. TraneOregon provided a competitive bid for cost-effective measures, Existing Buildings provided an energy study and incentive funding, and MESD approved and implemented the project.

“I am pretty tickled with the result so far,” said Wheeler. “Just having the interface to monitor building performance will be a huge asset, and watching the variance frequency drive ramp down fans that have been running full tilt as long as I can remember has been pretty neat. I can hardly wait to get our next energy bills to get a glimpse of what kind of savings we can show. Projections are that we can save as much as $40,000 per year for a simple payback of approximately five years. That may not sound like a lot, but for one of our special needs classrooms, $40,000 a year goes a long way in helping with staffing or materials.”

In summing up the project and experience, Wheeler states, “The support of Energy Trust in developing and supporting the energy projects can be invaluable. The incentives offered made this project feasible, with Energy Trust providing and incentive of approximately $95,000 for a $288,000 project, or roughly one-third of the project cost.”

If you have questions about Energy Trust’s small district outreach initiative, please contact Tom Hogstad via email or phone at 503.459.2686.