School District Could Save $600M Through Repair Program

Officials say they could cut energy costs in half by updating old boilers, lighting, thermostats and more.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The School District of Philadelphia has announced an energy-saving program that it claims could yield $600 million throughout the next 20 years. 

The pilot program, which is geared toward cutting energy costs in half, will work largely by chipping away at the district’s $4.5 billion in outstanding repairs – by replacing old lighting, boilers, thermostats, roofs and insulation with more efficient, updated versions.

It’s all part of a $1 billion plan to create jobs and implement more sustainable upgrades to public schools, city buildings, low-to-moderate-income homes and small businesses, as announced by City Council President Darrell Clarke last year.

“When City Council announced the 10-Year Philadelphia Energy Campaign last year, we envisioned an energy efficiency program that would make buildings across our city, including school district facilities, more sustainable,” Clarke said in a statement released yesterday. “The pilot program we are announcing today could yield up to $345 million in new funding, comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, and could result in as much as $600 million in energy savings over 20 years for the district.”

An assessment of district buildings released earlier this year found more than 12,000 outstanding repairs at public schools across the city. Through the program, the district has entered an energy performance contract with the Philadelphia Energy Campaign, which will help pay for the upgrades. The company claims that it can lower the district’s annual power, heating and cooling costs from $45 million to $23 million.

“The purpose of this energy pilot program is to determine if targeted energy investments through capital investments in our schools achieve enough savings to fund recurring capital improvements,” district superintendent Dr. William R. Hite said in yesterday’s statement. “This type of investment in our facilities can have short and long term benefits – and the pilot program will allow us to go about this in a smart way. This is part of our overall belief that all schools can be great.”

District officials will choose three schools to pilot the program this fall. If it’s successful, the district will expand the project citywide.

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