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Lakeland eyes energy savings throughout district


The Lakeland School Board heard plans for all of the district’s buildings that, if completed, will result in an estimated $54,000 per year savings in energy costs, plus additional savings in lower maintenance costs as older, failing equipment is replaced.

Kari Vilamaa went over each building with the board, discussing the various things that can be done to improve energy efficiency. Mechanical issues were mainly replacing aging boilers with more efficient models, as well as replacing building controls. Some buildings, such as the three elementary schools, could also benefit from having old roofing replaced with ones that offer better insulation.

Lighting throughout the buildings could also be replaced with more efficient fixtures, and even emergency exit lights could help save energy when switched over to LED lights.

Overall, the estimated cost for all of the recommended actions came to just over $7.1 million for all five school buildings. The average energy savings varied by building, depending on the age of the building and the amount of energy-saving projects recommended.

Parkside Elementary could see an average savings of 13.3 percent, saving $8,000 per year.

Wolcott Mills could see up to 21.8 percent energy savings, or an estimated reduction in its energy bills of $7,000 per year.

Lima-Brighton Elementary could recoup up to 22 percent of its energy costs with all of the measures recommended, reducing its bill by $11,000 per year.

Lakeland Middle School had the lowest estimated savings, as the building has already had numerous energy-saving projects completed. The middle school could save 4.4 percent, or $3,000 per year.

Lakeland High School could see an overall increase in efficiency by 13.9 percent, with possible savings of $25,000 per year.

The district’s energy bills total around $390,000 per year, the board was told. The $54,000 savings per year would be a 13.8 percent overall reduction in energy costs.

Some of the recommendations should be done sooner rather than later, Vilamaa noted, such as the heat pumps at the middle school, which he described as “way past their life expectancy.” He agreed that there are a lot of items on the list and a lot of discussion of what needs to be done and when.

The potential savings would be in the school’s general fund, freeing that money up for other expenses in the schools.

The board turned to using some remaining special bond funding to begin working on replacing the control system in the high school, and decided to look at what it would take to replace the entire system, which was one of the energy-saving projects recommended.