'Going green' to save county schools $8M


Lynn Wright and Brian Clark

Lynn Wright and Brian Clark



Mary Pollitz



Lowndes County School District expects to save nearly $8 million in energy savings within the next 20 years.


Superintendent Lynn Wright said the district partnered with Schneider Electric two years ago to increase not only its savings, but green footprint. Schneider Electric is an energy management company which focuses on maintaining energy efficiency. The company's goal with LCSD was to implement motion-sensor lights, newer HVAC systems and LED lighting.


Wright said the district's initial investment with Schneider was slightly more than $4 million, but expects the annual savings to help the district in the long run.



"Aside from the immediate benefit of having quality HVAC systems and lighting systems, the investment will, over the years, be over 100 percent return of investment," Wright said.


Representatives from Schneider Electric celebrated the district's near-completion Friday afternoon at the LCSD board of trustee's regular meeting.


They also presented the district with a one-time TVA energy right rebate for $115,800. Wright said the rebate was an incentive for the district to pursue "greener" energy.


"I think energy efficiency is a big topic," Board President Brian Clark said. "I think everybody needs to take advantage of that whenever possible. The LED lights that have been installed (are) going to drastically reduce usage moving forward and that equals dollar savings."


Wright said the initial investment included costs the district already required, such as new HVAC systems. By now, nearly 95% of the district's lighting has been replaced with LED lighting and all schools have some motion-sensor lighting to increase efficiency.


"We have a responsibility to utilize our funds as effectively and efficiently as we can," Wright said. "Energy savings, not only does it help us financially but helps the environment."


LCSD looks to save nearly $300,000 annually on energy costs, which amounts to a 22 percent decrease in costs. The savings, Wright said, could ultimately help offset the $2.5 million shortfall LCSD is facing this year, which placed LCSD in a hiring freeze.


"When I look at $281,000 a year in savings, I'm thinking five teacher units," Wright said. "That's almost the equivalent of five teachers' salaries with those savings."


Wright said he expects full completion from Schneider Electric by this December.





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