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Schools seeking energy savings



In order to change the temperature of the front office at Walker–Grant Middle School in Fredericksburg, someone has to go upstairs to the library.

Fortunately, this will no longer be a problem when much of the HVAC and electrical equipment in four of the city’s schools is replaced this year.

The school board recently approved a $3.8 million energy performance contract with Amaresco, a company that promised the schools will see big savings from new equipment.

The performance contract guarantees that the money the district saves will meet or exceed the amount of the payments made, said Bob Burch, the division’s director of operations.

And if it doesn’t, he said Amaresco will pay the difference.

The idea for upgrading the equipment came from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, he said.

Before hiring Amaresco, Burch spoke to at least six other school districts in Virginia that worked with the company.

Other school divisions that use the same plan include Newport News, Greensville, Nottoway, Shenandoah, Patrick, Fairfax, Greene and Amherst.

He said they all gave glowing reviews.

One of the first tasks will be to update much of the lighting and lighting controls at Hugh Mercer Elementary, Walker–Grant Middle, Lafayette Upper Elementary and James Monroe High schools.

This will greatly improve some areas, such as the gym at Walker–Grant, he said.

With the better lighting, he joked that the coach would be able to teach the students what a basketball looked like—rather than just what it felt like.

Other changes include replacing the water conservation system at the central office, Hugh Mercer and Lafayette Upper Elementary. Instead of having a system run continuously—including all night—to heat water, a new one would heat water a lot faster.

Other things being replaced include:

rooftop units at Walker–Grant and Hugh Mercer.

ventilators at Hugh Mercer.

chillers at Walker–Grant.

water heaters at Hugh Mercer and Walker–Grant.

Burch said he wants to have the work completed by October.

“The equipment has just gotten to the point, they stopped making parts for it,” he said.

He said the school district secured 2.01 percent financing through U.S. Bancorp.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413