Twin Wins: See How Prop 39 Projects Achieve Environmental AND Economic Gains

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Prop 39 K-12When Prop 39 (Clean Energy Jobs Act) funding enabled the Snowline Joint Unified School District to tackle some long overdue facility upgrades, Mike Schene talked about the win in terms of schools and students.

“Our Prop 39 allocation is allowing us to address a project that I have wanted to accomplish for years, but never had the funding for. Without this funding, this project wouldn’t be a reality,” says Schene, the District’s Director of Maintenance and Operations. “A school that is dedicated to conserving resources also creates a healthy, comfortable and productive learning environment for the students. I see it every day.”

In addition to serving the students in our California schools, Prop 39-funded projects can achieve considerable environmental gains and make significant economic impacts simultaneously.

This is the third lesson we’ve learned from working with California school districts: Prop 39 energy savings projects are proving themselves in multiple ways.

Read our first two blogs on Prop 39 lessons learned:

  • The importance of using Prop 39 funding to jump start an energy master plan > read now
  • Leverage Prop 39 allocations to accomplish more for your district > read now

Over the past three years, Schneider Electric has partnered with districts throughout the state on Prop 39 funded projects, touching over 160 facilities to achieve meaningful environmental and economic impacts. Have these projects created local jobs? You bet! We strive to utilize IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) wherever possible to ensure jobs are kept within the community.

In analyzing Prop 39 projects managed by Schneider Electric, we see twin wins.

Economically, these projects have:

  • Generated $2,008,400 USD in annual savings over the life of the projects
  • Drove the creation of 155 new jobs

Environmentally, these projects have:

  • Removed 3,094 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
  • Displaced the equivalent of 664 cars from the road
  • Saved enough energy to power 399 houses

It may come as a surprise to some, but I’ve found that most districts are attracted to energy savings projects for reasons beyond the return on investment. In fact, the savings realized are, of course, a benefit to our California cash-strapped schools, but more often than not, the money saved is not the key driver. What really motivates these districts is the ability to enhance their learning environments, accomplish deferred maintenance projects they otherwise couldn’t afford, create sustainability master plans, and improve indoor air quality and occupant comfort. Prop 39 dollars are being leveraged and stretched to enable California districts to achieve big goals in the classroom and beyond.

Snowline Joint Unified School District is a great example of this. Unable to pass a local bond, the District saw Prop 39 and Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) as an opportunity to leverage dollars and accomplish district-wide improvements.

Prop 39 funding and ESPCs are a powerful combination. That’s because under California Government Code 4217, schools can use ESPCs to leverage funding such as Prop 39 — with a guaranteed payback. These contracts use savings from energy conservation improvements to fund infrastructure and maintenance projects with little to no upfront capital needed from the schools.

ESPCs allow schools to tackle facility improvement and energy conservation projects that they wouldn’t be able to take on otherwise. For Snowline Joint USD, that equated to leveraging approximately $1.6 million of Prop 39 funds to achieve over $6 million in improvements.

Their Prop 39 leveraged project helped Snowline Joint USD replace all of the District’s interior and exterior lighting with LEDs, reduce peak demand through control strategies, and install an IT power management system to turn off computers and networked devices when they are not in use.

Additionally, four schools (out of 11) will become Zero Energy Campuses as a result of this project’s completion. (Zero energy campus means the total amount of energy used annually equates to the amount of renewable energy created on-site.)

“We have always been very proactive regarding energy conservation for our District, including our solar initiative and partnering with Schneider Electric to plan and implement our Prop 39 strategy,” said Karen Winkler, Assistant Superintendent of Business for Snowline Joint USD. “Incorporating energy efficient measures significantly cuts our energy costs every year — enabling us to direct more funds towards programs for our students.”

Still figuring out how to best utilize your Prop 39 dollars? Although we’re quickly approaching year four of the five-year program, there is still plenty of time to get an impactful project accomplished. Don’t let a great opportunity pass you by!

For more about Prop 39 funding and how we can assist schools, click here.


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