The district is undertaking a $14.5 million energy and infrastructure upgrade project through a state program at dozen and half elementary schools.
Under the project, the 17 schools — School 1, 26, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27 – will receive LED lighting and energy metering upgrades. Air conditioning will be installed at the gyms of School 2 and 10. School 4 auditorium will also get air conditioning.
A steam boiler at School 20 will be replaced and heating systems at School 10 and 24 will be converted from steam to hot water. Rooftop and air handling units at the auditorium, library and administrative offices at School 20, 21, and 27 will be replaced.
Solar panels will be installed at 10 schools. School officials hired Energy Systems Group of Newburgh, Ind. last year to carry out the project.
The upgrades being made through the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) run by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities starts in March and will run for the next 18 months. The project is anticipated for completion by the end of 2019. It is expected to produce $20 million in savings over an 18-year period.
State law requires the value of the energy savings to pay for the improvements which means the district is not spending any budget dollars. Some school board members see the program as a way to make much needed infrastructure upgrades at the district’s many aging buildings.
“This city has over 20 school buildings that are over 90 years old. Our children deserve to receive a quality education in facilities that meet 21st Century learning standards. Through this energy savings program, we are making well-overdue infrastructure upgrades to our aging school facilities,” said school board president Oshin Castillo.
The upgrades at 17 schools represents the first phase of the project. A second phase will cover 17 additional schools, including high schools in the district.
There’s also an education element that will expose students to renewable energy technology.
“We are especially excited for students to see innovative renewable energy and sustainability measures firsthand and to help promote science through STEM programs and educational materials,” said Valerie Moran, a senior account executive at Energy Systems Group.