M-S looks to save on energy

Mahomet-Seymour hopes to cut its energy bills in the coming  year—providing much-needed savings for the school district in these lean financial times.

At the end of December, the school board voted to hire energy consulting firm Ameresco to spearhead a project to replace inefficient lighting with new fluorescent fixtures.

Superintendent Rick Johnston said last week that he expects to see a significant return on the district's investment. The $527, 272 contract with Ameresco will be funded by Champaign County's one-percent sales tax for school improvements. Much of those funds are committed to the district's new early childhood center, but a portion was set aside to provide for upkeep on current facilities.

Johnston also anticipates taking advantage of at least $144,000 in grant money available to schools for energy-efficiency projects.

“We are working to be creative in our use of sales tax dollars to help in assisting our operational funds whenever possible," Johnston said. "In this case, we will be guaranteed a savings of over $60,000 each year moving forward in energy savings. "

Johnston added that the $60,000 estimate—which also includes savings on maintenance costs—isn't a one-time savings, but is expected to compound each year. "With energy costs being very low right now, that yearly savings will only increase over time," he said.

Ameresco consultants plan to replace lights in the high school's gym and field house facilities, as well as switch out most of the incandescent light fixtures in the district with new compact florescent fixtures. Consultants also plan to install motion sensors in restrooms, locker rooms and other areas so that lights automatically turn off when those spaces are not in use.

The lighting retrofit will be completed in the coming months at the high school, the junior high, Sangamon and Lincoln Trail.

School districts across the state have undertaken energy-saving projects in recent years, as they look for ways to save money on facilities and operations costs. Ameresco, which has offices in Chicago, has worked with over 60 districts in Illinois.

Categories (2):News, Education


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