A Tale of Two Schools
A Tale of Two Schools

Facing uncomfortable, outdated facilities, two school districts partnered with local businesses and governments to retrofit their buildings,  cutting costs, saving energy and enhancing their learning environments.

Aberdeen and Hoquiam school districts were facing a challenge – aging school buildings left them with a choice of closing outdated locations or stretching already limited budgets for retrofits. Through evaluating their options the districts became aware of the energy performance contracting services available through the Washington Department of Enterprise Services (DES) and state energy efficiency grants, both designed specifically for energy retrofits in public school districts.

“We partnered with the City of Hoquiam to finance the project. We partnered with area businesses and subcontractors. We saw about a quarter million dollars worth of rebates. At one point we had about 75 to 78 local workers on this site. And that was a tremendous boom to the local economy. ” - Mike Parker, Hoquiam School District

Thinking Local. By partnering with DES and energy service companies (ESCo’s) the districts were able to develop energy efficiency projects tailored to their individual needs that generate ongoing savings –and apply for grants to reduce the initial cost. As a result, not only are the districts saving money on energy costs, but they now have more comfortable and modern learning environments for their students and staff. By contracting with DES and ESCOs that employ local workers and sub-contractors, these projects also provided direct economic support for their communities.

Stimulating the Economy. For Aberdeen School District, it was with the help of their retrofit partner Ameresco that they were able to replace a failing boiler, retrofit lighting at nine schools, improve insulation and implement water conservation measures that are saving the district more than $28,000 per year.  State energy grants totaling $242,500 plus more than $82,000 in utility incentives offset 65% of the $500,000 construction cost. For their $177,000 share of the cost the District used $27,500 in available capital and secured low-interest financing for the balance, with the associated debt service more than offset by the Ameresco’s guaranteed energy savings.

"We just show that we're constantly looking forward to find ways to save money, to operate more efficiently, to operate all of our buildings in a more green manner." – Dave Herrington, Aberdeen School District

Hoquiam faced an even larger financial challenge with retrofits at their middle school predicted to cost up to $1,300,000 and involving not only their HVAC, but also their building envelope and lighting systems. McKinstry, their partnering ESCo, was able to develop a plan to help them receive a grant of $750,000 to cover more than half of their expenses. Through the updates, the Hoquiam improved the comfort and efficiency of the buildings – saving them more than $18,000 a year in energy expenses!

Key Players:

Hoquiam School District - featuring Mike Parker, Superintendent

Aberdeen School District - featuring Dave Herrington and Marv Townsend

Ameresco Quantum - Retrofit Partner for Aberdeen School District

Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC) is a leading provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions throughout North America, serving more than 2,000 clients in K-12 schools, higher education, federal, state and local government, healthcare, as well as commercial and industrial markets. Ameresco has audited, developed, designed and managed the construction of more than $3.5 billion in energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) projects, including more than 80 million square feet of facilities in Washington State.

McKinstry - Energy Retrofit Partner for Hoquiam School District

McKinstry is a national leader in the integrated delivery of construction, energy and facility services. Their vision for creating high-performing buildings is realized through their cycle of services, which empowers their clients to make informed decisions that ensure occupant satisfaction, encourage the responsible use of natural resources, and maximize investments for the life of their building.


Author Bio

Bobby is former Solutions Stories and Media Manager with Climate Solutions. In that role, he worked to identify and engage new audiences for our programs and campaigns throughout the Northwest, with a focus on the Solutions Stories.

Bobby spent six years as the National Representative at the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (SOS), mobilizing support to restore the Columbia-Snake River Basin, a watershed home to some of the world’s best habitat for wild salmon and steelhead in a changing climate.

After receiving his degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2003, he advocated on behalf of working people and the environment. In addition to SOS, Bobby has worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 503) and America Coming Together, and volunteered for the Trout Unlimited, Elders in Action, and UNITE HERE.

Bobby hails from central Pennsylvania and has lived in Oregon since 1998. When he's not working, Bobby can be found with his partner Jenny and their cat Jove, playing music with friends, out and about on his bike, or working in the garden.

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