Researchers Merrian Borgeson and Mark Zimring in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division have released a guide for school district administrators focused on planning and financing energy upgrades.
The free guide Financing Energy Upgrades for K-12 School Districts is written explicitly for school administrators, facility managers and others in K-12 education management. It covers different options for public and private financing approaches, and contains numerous case studies of school district projects. The authors provide explanations of financial terms and mechanisms.
The money spent on energy for schools is their second-highest operating expenditure after personnel costs – more money than is spent on textbooks and computers combined, according to Borgeson.
Six case studies drawn from the experience of school districts around the US tell the stories of how district policymakers overcame obstacles, built consensus, and chose funding mechanisms for energy efficiency upgrades that were widely accepted by their districts’ stakeholders – parents, taxpayers and political leadership.
Williamson County School District in Tennessee, for example, entered into an energy savings performance contract with an energy services company and completed a $5.7 million lease-purchase agreement to fund a range of energy-related improvements across 27 school facilities. The lease-purchase agreement helped reduce the barrier of up-front costs of the upgrades, and re-financing a year later benefitted both the district and taxpayers. The project will pay for itself in six and a half years, and continue saving money for the district long after that time.
Douglas County School District in Nevada used a combination of financial mechanisms to fund $10.7 million in upgrades. It tapped into federal qualified school construction bonds, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, and voter-approved general obligation bonds to fund a range of equipment and facility improvements.