School renovations reward county with low-energy costs

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Posted 4/15/18

Bradley County Schools is beginning to reap the rewards of a $16.2 million series of energy-related renovations completed last year. The school district hired a company, Energy Systems Group, to …

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School renovations reward county with low-energy costs

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Bradley County Schools is beginning to reap the rewards of a $16.2 million series of energy-related renovations completed last year. 

The school district hired a company, Energy Systems Group, to evaluate its energy usage and install new windows, lighting, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances and other items meant to save energy and water usage. 

During a recent Bradley County Board of Education meeting, Bradley County Schools Energy Management Manager Johnny Mull gave an update on the project.

“Our costs are going down since we did the project,” Mull said. “Our usage is down everywhere.” 

Over the past year, Bradley County Schools has saved approximately $303,815 in “actual dollars” and $497,169 in “cost-avoidance dollars,” he explained. 

Bradley County Schools has seen a 27.57 percent decrease in energy usage, when comparing time periods of April 2016-March 2017 and April 2017-March 2018.  

During the latter part of that same time period, the district began using 25.52 percent less water and 18.44 percent less propane. There was also an 11.91 percent decrease in sewer costs. 

“That’s a good thing, because utility rates are up,” said Mull. 

The idea behind the energy project had been for the renovations to pay for themselves, and Mull said they are on track to do so. 

Many of the board members expressed happiness over this news. Board member Nancy Casson described the decrease in energy usage as “amazing.” 

Board member Amanda Lee also acknowledgedthis project was a big undertaking and thanked Mull for “taking the time to work on that.” 

During the same meeting, the board also gave special recognition to Lynn Voelz, the executive director of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation. 

Board member Dianna Calfee explained the BCPEF has been in existence for 10 years now, and the county schools have received nearly $712,000 worth of grants in that amount of time. 

While she noted the board does include an allocation to the foundation in its budget, Calfee said the foundation gives more than it gets. For the past two years, the board has allocated $25,000 annually. Over those two years, the foundation gave $358,436 in grants to teachers, thanks in part to its work recruiting community donors. 

“This was a significant return on investment,” said Calfee. “Lynn Voelz and her staff work hard to provide for our local teachers and schools.” 

Voelz in turn thanked the board and everyone who has helped the foundation be successful in its mission. 

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