July | August 2017


Case Studies

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Virginia: Loudoun County Makes Schools

Loudoun County Public School District in the Washington, D.C. area, has saved more than $34.4 million since it began its energy efficiency program in the 1993-94 school year. The district also reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 628,939 metric tons—equal to 112,886 passenger cars not being driven for one year.
Of the district’s 76 school buildings, 24 schools carry the ENERGY STAR certification, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stamp of approval for energy efficient buildings.
Savings came through a slew of energy efficiency projects such as changing out heating and cooling systems and changing exit signs to LED exit signs.
Projects are as simple as paying attention to weatherstripping at a door’s base to major projects such replacing the chiller that cools the entire school, said Michael Barancewicz, one of the school district’s energy education specialists.
But it’s more than just building projects that make the schools environmentally friendly and more efficient.
At Hutchinson Farm Elementary, Principal Irene Ellis takes energy efficiency and conservation personally. For vacations like the recent spring break, schools go through extra procedures to make sure there’s no energy wasted. Before Ellis goes home for vacation, she personally walks the building and opens every door to check everything off the list, said John Lord, the district’s other energy education specialist.
“Sometimes it means she stays until 8 to 10 p.m. at night,” Lord said.
Those efforts are making Washington, D.C., a little greener.
Washington, D.C., was number two on the list of metropolitan areas with the most energy efficient buildings, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has the second largest number of ENERGY STAR commercial buildings. Loudoun County Public Schools were a big part of that.
Loudoun County Schools Energy Efficiency
  1. The school district reduced its energy consumption by 10 percent from last year.
  2. Loudoun County Public Schools was one of two school districts in the nation that won an ENERGY STAR 2010 Partner of the Year award.
  3. Loudoun County Schools’ energy efficiency program began in 1993.
  4. Two years ago, the district started using tools from the ENERGY STAR program.



Georgia: Tax Credit Aimed at Energy Efficiency

Georgia homeowners looking to upgrade their residences might be hoping for a second federal stimulus package.
If Congress were to approve more stimulus money for the states, Georgia state Rep. Joe Wilkinson wants to ensure homeowners get up to a $2,500 state income tax credit if they improve their home’s energy efficiency.
“We want to encourage Georgians to install more energy efficient products, and thus save energy and improve the environment,” said Wilkinson, who co-authored House Bill 1069 with House Democratic leader DuBose Porter to install the tax credit. “Equally important is that we want to put Georgians back to work, specifically electricians, pipefitters, plumbers and HVAC contractors.”
The tax credit would be separate from the $1,500 federal income tax credit on energy-saving systems that expires at the end of this year.
The bill passed the House in late March, and Wilkinson was optimistic it would pass the Senate.
The legislature has offered similar credits in the past when Georgians purchased ENERGY STAR appliances, according to Wilkinson.
He anticipates the tax credit to have no impact on the general state budget, since funding would come from federal funds. The credit would expire when money from a second stimulus runs out.
“It depends on the amount of money that the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority is able to get from the stimulus package assuming there is a second stimulus package,” said Wilkinson. “It’s a first come-first served basis, so once the money is distributed, then it ends.”
While many doubt a second federal stimulus package is coming, Wilkinson said this bill will ensure Georgia is ready if it comes.
Georgia State Income Tax Credit
  1. Homeowners would get a $2,500 credit for installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems and water-saving plumbing.
  2. The credit would be equal to 25 percent of the equipment costs or $2,500, whichever is less.
  3. The credit would apply to new construction or retrofit.
  4. The credit, part of House Bill 1069, is contingent on a second federal stimulus package.
  5. The bipartisan bill was supported by trade unions and environmental groups.



Iowa: State Fund Powers

When Maytag closed a manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa, a few years ago, many people lost their jobs.
Thanks to the Iowa Power Fund and the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, some of those people found new jobs when TPI Composites started manufacturing wind turbine blades in the old Maytag plant.
The Iowa Power Fund contributed one-third of the capital investment for TPI to open the facility, said Roya Stanley, director of the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, which was created along with the Power Fund in 2007 by Gov. Chet Culver and legislators.
“The Power Fund specifically is a financial tool—and one can look at it as an investment tool—to further the goals of increasing (research and development) and early stage commercialization of renewable energy in the state,” Stanley said.
Iowa wants to capitalize on its resources—both the natural resources including wind and biomass, as well as the highly skilled research community and skilled labor force, she said.
The legislature intended to include $25 million annually for four years, but this year, due to budget constraints, was only able to appropriate $21.6 million for the Power Fund, Stanley said.
“Given the economic times and budget constraints, we believe that is a very strong commitment on the part of the governor and legislature to really move the Iowa economy forward,” she said.
Since its inception, the Power Fund has awarded $35.7 million for 27 projects—all of which bring in matching investments totaling $186.8 million. Renewable energy projects range from wind to biomass to solar.
“These are the kinds of projects that don’t happen overnight and they do need some risk capital, which (is) effectively what the state is providing,” Stanley said.
The Iowa Power Fund
  1. The fund can be used for research and development as well as early stage commercialization for products.
  2. The Power Fund Board sets a very rigorous screening process, which includes an evaluation of the project for technical soundness and financial viability.
  3. The fund targets creation of jobs in initial research and development, as well as construction and longer-term manufacturing positions.
  4. Organizations repay the Power Fund based on the success of the projects developed using the funding and the organization’s cash flow.
  5. The state has received 296 applications requesting more than $600 million with potential matching investment of $1.7 billion.



Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno Schools to Install Solar Panels

This summer when the kids are out of school, Nevada’s two largest school districts will install solar panels on the school buildings.
“You can use renewables as a way to generate the economy,” said Tara Vogel, renewable energy analyst with the Nevada State Energy Office. “It’s definitely a good thing to help benefit the schools.”
Each of Nevada’s 17 school districts is getting more than $440,000 in the state’s energy stimulus funds for energy efficiency projects. The state’s largest public school districts in Las Vegas and Reno—Clark and Washoe County—each got an additional $1 million and will install solar panels.
The school districts are hoping to take advantage of a solar rebate program through NV Energy’s Solar Generations program. NV Energy is an electric utility company providing electricity for 2.4 million people in Nevada and northeastern California. The rebate program offers schools a rebate of $5 per watt for installing solar panels.
That’s significant because it usually costs $5.30 per watt to install solar panels, Vogel said. But she worries about the demand for the rebate program and if it will run out of money before the schools can snag a piece of the pie.
“It’s so popular right now, applications that come in for the state of Nevada might exceed their rebate capabilities,” Vogel said.
Energy Efficient Schools in Nevada
  1. Each Nevada school district will receive $441,176 in stimulus funds for energy efficiency projects.
  2. Clark County Public Schools in Las Vegas and Washoe County Public Schools in Reno will each receive more than $1.44 million in stimulus funding for energy efficiency projects.
  3. Apart from the schools, other state buildings will also get energy upgrades. Four state buildings—the Department of Motor Vehicles in Henderson, parking structures in Las Vegas, and the Library Archives and Legislative Parking Garage in Carson City—will also have solar panels installed.
  4. In another 124 state buildings across the state, energy efficient lights will replace old lights.


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