The Highland Unified School District (USD) 425, in Highland, Kan., has completed $369,000 in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort, and efficiency in its facilities. The Energy Solutions division of TAC, which offers energy services, building automation, and security, completed the work as a performance contract with the district. TAC guarantees that the Highland schools will reduce their utility costs by $35,000 annually, a 40 percent savings.

Highland USD 425 is located in northwest Doniphan County and serves the communities of Highland and White Cloud. Facilities include an elementary and high school plus a vo-ag building, all totaling 85,000 square feet. TAC installed new efficient lighting in the schools and a complete digital energy management system (EMS) to provide effective control of all the district’s mechanical systems.

“TAC provided Highland USD with an affordable financing mechanism that allowed us to complete the updating of our facilities,” said Rex Bollinger, superintendent. “Not only do the energy savings completely fund the project, but we have noticeably more comfortable buildings.”

Performance contracting is a turnkey method whereby the design, construction, commissioning, and performance measurement are incorporated into one guaranteed fixed price. Improved facility efficiency, comfort, financial management, and environmental protection are among the long-term results TAC delivers as the single provider accountable for all aspects of the project.

TAC guarantees the amount of savings performance contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized. Typically, new, more efficient equipment, and upgraded facility automation systems generate the utility savings, as well as maximize energy efficiency and improve occupant comfort. Performance contracting projects are funded in a variety of ways, including general obligation bond funds, maintenance reserve funds, and financing secured against guaranteed energy savings.

The Highland schools had numerous comfort problems in their buildings as well as high maintenance costs on their equipment. The existing pneumatic controls were faulty and did not stay calibrated. The maintenance staff also had difficulty controlling the multi-zone rooftop units, resulting in pressurization problems and uncomfortable classrooms. Because the lighting at Highland was outdated and inefficient, TAC replaced all of the T-12 fixtures with new T-8 fluorescent lights and retrofitted the gym lights with high bay compact fluorescent lamps.

“Because the Highland district has limited funds, it was not financially capable of getting improvements done on its own, so performance contracting made it possible to update their buildings and make systems run as they were designed,” said Wes McDaniel, vice president of TAC Energy Solutions. “In addition, TAC brought to Highland a level of expertise that, because they are a small district in a very small town, they could not otherwise get. Now, students, faculty, and staff enjoy a better learning and working environment as a result of these facility updates.”

Publication date:04/07/2008