Alabama Schools Make $2.9 Million Green Commitment

The Florence (Ala.) City Schools are implementing $2.9 M in facility enhancements to improve operations and efficiency at district buildings. Schneider Electric will complete the work as a performance contract and guarantees the schools system will save more than $200,000 in utility costs annually.

The Florence City Schools in Florence, Ala., are implementing $2.9 million in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at nine district buildings totaling more than 925,000 square feet. Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, will complete the work as a performance contract with the district. Schneider Electric guarantees that Florence City Schools will reduce its utility costs by at least $207,000 annually when the project is completed in October 2010.

Located in northwestern Alabama, Florence City Schools serves more than 4,300 students in grades PK through 12 and has a reputation as a progressive and technically advanced district. Florence administrators turned to Schneider Electric to resolve building system control and comfort problems in some of their schools. The performance contract offered the best solution to these problems and provided energy savings as well.

"The district implemented a behavioral modification program focused on energy conservation five years ago. Then Schneider Electric came and showed us how to further reduce our energy usage," said Dr. Kendy Behrends, superintendent, Florence City Schools. "We are excited about strategically reinvesting the money we have been paying on utilities, and the facilities staff is pleased we are taking advantage of this opportunity to fund the controls and lighting upgrades that they had been wanting for years."

Performance contracting offers many long-term benefits for school districts, such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Typically, new, more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems maximize energy efficiency and generate utility savings. Schneider Electric guarantees the amount of savings performance contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized.

The energy savings Schneider Electric promises for the Florence City Schools will avoid 57 million pounds of C02 pollution. This is equivalent to planting more than 3.5 million trees, avoiding 63 million miles of driving, or taking 6,300 cars off the roads.

The top priority of the Florence City School's administration was to replace an obsolete building management system (BMS) at two district schools with the same direct digital control (DDC) BMS in place in the majority of their schools. Upgrading all the buildings to the same DDC BMS provides the district with the efficiency and functionality it needs to effectively operate their buildings. Other energy conservation measures that Schneider Electric will implement include a comprehensive lighting retrofit, lighting occupancy sensors and control integration, plumbing fixture upgrades, replacing programmable thermostats with BMS connected thermostats with occupancy sensors, retro-commissioning of the BMS, and building optimization.

A final important component of the project is to alleviate the 20 degree temperature difference from ceiling to floor in the dome gym at Florence High School that occurs during heating mode. Schneider Electric will implement stratification control to gently drive the hot ceiling level air down to the floor, which will dramatically reduce energy consumption and improve comfort.

"The Florence City School district will achieve a 22 percent energy unit savings and 18 percent energy cost savings as a result of this project. The funding mechanism available through performance contracting enables the district to fund long-needed upgrades to the BMS and lighting systems," said Shon Anderson, vice president, sales, Energy Solutions group of Schneider Electric. "In addition, there has been increased student, faculty and community awareness and involvement through districtwide green initiatives - helping the district continue its reputation as being one of the most progressive districts in the state."

About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, security, and data centers/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company's 114,000 employees achieved sales of more than 18.3 billion euros in 2008, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations "Make the most of their energy."

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