Sending utilities savings to the classroom

Myrtle Point School District goes all in on 'retro-commissioning'
By: | November 6, 2020
(GettyImages/Jaturong Sriwilat/EyeEm)

Upgrading the boiler system at Myrtle Crest Elementary School in rural Oregon ended up costing its district nothing.

The nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon paid for the energy audit that launched the project and funded $9,000 of the initial $12,000 price tag for the work. Other incentives covered the rest, says Nanette Hagen, superintendent of the rural Myrtle Point School District.

The elementary’s “retro-commissioning” project made its boiler system more energy efficient without having to replace the entire thing, which would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The work allows the school to program the boiler to turn up or down depending on whether classes are in session and how the weather outside, Hagen says.

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Previously, maintenance workers had to shut off the circuit breaker to rest the temperature.

All lighting in the elementary school was also replaced with LED bulbs, which will save the district nearly $6,000 a year.

Next, the district will make upgrades to the metal shop ventilation system at this junior/senior high school. The Energy Trust is covering just less than half the cost of the $46,000 project.

“Any dollar I save on utilities is a dollar I can put in the classroom,” Hagen says. “And we can keep people more comfortable in their work environment.”