Energy upgrades help district save money

Lighting costs at Pioneer have been reduced from $70 to $7 a night thanks to upgrades paid for by the sinking fund.
Lighting costs at Pioneer have been reduced from $70 to $7 a night thanks to upgrades paid for by the sinking fund.

Oct. 4, 2013 

By Tara Cavanaugh

One cool thing about the sinking fund is that it can be used to cut down on costs in the general fund.

According to Tim Gruszczynski, AAPS executive director of physical properties, the district’s goal is to use the sinking fund “for every allowable purpose” in order to save money in the general fund, which pays for the majority of the district’s costs.

The sinking fund has paid for upgrades in lighting, roofing, heating and cooling that have saved the district $700,000 in energy bills every year.

Two new high efficiency boilers at Angell Elementary, one of the district’s oldest buildings, allow better control of temperature. “A common problem in older schools is that the heat is either completely on or completely off,” Gruszczynski said. “There’s no way to maintain the temperatures as finely.”

Angell’s new boilers can produce heat gradually, using less energy to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

Huron High School’s music wing now has a new cooling unit. The previous unit was 24 years old and was corroded. The new unit is a non-corrosive cooling tower. “The biggest issue we have with cooling towers is corrosion, so this new one at Huron should last us for decades,” Gruszczynski said.

Occupancy sensors have also made a big difference in energy costs. As of this summer, there are now occupancy sensors in 1,000 rooms across the 36 AAPS buildings. When the sensors detect an empty room, they turn off lights and the heating and cooling systems.

New LED or compact florescent lights have been installed in all building exterior lights. “We went from spending $70 a night to $7 a night at Pioneer alone,” Gruszczynski said.

The sinking fund has also provided eight AAPS buildings with complete or partial roof replacements, and the district increases the amount of insulation with each replacement. More insulation means less heat and air conditioning escapes from the building, which means lower energy costs.

The current sinking fund, approved in 2008, supplies the fund with money until 2015. If approved by voters on Nov. 5, the sinking fund would be supplied with about $7.4 million each year from 2015 to 2019.

More on the sinking fund:

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1 Comment

  1. Are the lights now ON every night in the Pioneer parking lot?

    I have been there in June and September at night, and the lights were off, making for a pitch black scene. While walking in the lot in June, I almost fell over a chain strung between knee-high poles on grass dividers in the lot. Both times I was a fearful driver because it was so hard to see pedestrians walking to/from their cars in the lot.

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