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School District Renovating with $3 Million in Energy Efficient Upgrades
Improvements at Flathead High and other schools expected to save more than $140,000 annually
Flathead High School students eat lunch outside the main commons area. File photo by Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
In an effort to improve energy efficiency and save more than $140,000 annually in reduced costs, the Kalispell school district is revamping Flathead High School and 11 other buildings with more than $3 million in infrastructure improvements.

Ameresco, Inc., an energy efficiency and renewable energy company based in Massachusetts, is installing more than $3.29 million worth of upgrades in district schools this year. Kalispell School District 5 announced the massive overhaul project earlier this month and expects it to be fully completed by the end of the upcoming school year.

A majority of the work is concentrated on renovating facilities’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning infrastructure. Other upgrades include boiler replacements, water efficiency retrofits, rooftop replacements and new interior and exterior lighting systems.

The project will significantly shrink the district’s annual carbon footprint. After completion, the improvements throughout the 12 buildings will reduce more than 1.21 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 56,079 therms of natural gas and more than 1.52 million gallons of water.

The upgrades are estimated to save the district $140,569 annually in reduced energy costs while also addressing critical infrastructure needs, according to Ameresco and the school district.

“One of Kalispell’s oldest schools has been looking for a way to pay for upgrades to its heating and cooling system and increase its energy efficiency, but not impact our taxpayers,” Superintendent Darlene Schottle said in a statement.

“Flathead High School was of particular concern with classrooms either too warm, too cold, or water leaking in through the roof. We had to look at more innovative ways to try to do some of the building upgrades that needed to be done. Ameresco was able to make these improvements with this budget neutral approach.”

Ameresco and the school district are facilitating a bulk of the improvements through an “energy savings performance contract.” Through an ESPC, Ameresco pays up front for costs involved in energy-efficient upgrade projects, and those costs are returned through future savings from improvements. Kalispell’s project is also being funded through a roughly $1 million state grant supporting energy-efficient upgrades.

“An energy savings performance contract such as this one enables a district to leverage their current budget to implement necessary energy improvements to enhance their student learning environment and reduce operational costs,” Louis P. Maltezos, executive vice president of Ameresco, said in a statement.

“The ESPC model is expected to allow the Kalispell District 5 to overcome the challenge of aging systems and limited funding for upgrades. Funding through grants, rebates and energy savings allows the District to implement the project without impacting the local taxpayers.”

Kalispell is the second recipient of an Ameresco contract in Montana. Lewis and Clark County is also undergoing energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades.
 
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