August 6, 2008

Beach Board OKs $4M in Energy-Efficient Projects

By Lauren Roth, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.

Aug. 6--VIRGINIA BEACH -- To save money, the School Board on Tuesday approved the installation of low-flow urinals, a geothermal heating system and energy-efficient lights in a few pilot schools around the city.

The projects, totaling about $4 million, are part of two energy performance contracts with companies that install the equipment and offer a money-back guarantee. If savings targets aren't met annually, the companies, AMERESCO and NORESCO, pay the school system the difference. One contract will last seven years, the other 13 years.

The school system chose eight schools that could use upgrades and are not scheduled for major renovations or replacements in the near future.

Brighter, more efficient lights and low-flow technology for sinks and urinals will be put in each of the schools: Bayside High School, Plaza and Brandon middle schools and Red Mill, Indian Lakes, Providence, Kingston and Rosemont elementaries.

At Rosemont, the contractors also will install a geothermal heat pump that will use deep groundwater -- which has a constant temperature -- to heat and cool the school.

"It's using the earth's natural resources," said Jim Morris, who is in charge of environmental and energy management for the school division. The heat pump will require less maintenance and be more energy-efficient than the current system, he said.

At Plaza Middle School, a solar panel will be installed to provide some electricity. The panel also will be hooked up to a computer system that students can monitor as part of class lessons, Morris said.

All of the work will begin in the fall and should be completed within a year, Morris said.

"This is a way to get needed capital improvements done, plus save money," he said.

Lauren Roth, (757) 222-5133, [email protected]


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