Upgrades lead to big savings for Naugatuck school system

Jerry Drummond of Siemens points to a temperature control unit in the Tuttle Building during the Naugatuck Board of Education’s July 14 meeting. The control was part of many energy improvements the company made to facilities within the school district to save on energy costs. LARAINE WESCHLER

NAUGATUCK — Facility improvements have led to substantial energy savings for the borough’s school system.

The school system has saved an estimated $1 million in annual energy costs over what it was paying six years ago, according to a representative from Siemens, an energy company.

“This is the highest reduction we have here locally,” said Jerry Drummond of Siemens, during his annual report to the Board of Education July 14.

The company has a performance-based contract with the borough to make improvements to save on energy. As part of the contract, Siemens implemented $12.3 million in facility improvements in the school system. A portion of the district’s energy savings go to the company for its fee. The net figure of what the district saved after paying the company’s fee was unclear as of this post.

When the program started seven years ago, the district had high energy costs and old, inefficient buildings, Drummond said.

When he first arrived, one of the school’s broilers was in pieces on the floor, he said.

Since then, the company has made numerous improvements to school facilities, including converting the way buildings are heated from electric to hot water heating, sealing leaks and cracks in buildings, and installing a centralized energy management system.

The new online system can control temperature and sets off alarms if something goes wrong, Drummond said.
Since the program was implemented, the district has seen a 51 percent reduction in electricity use, a 29 percent reduction in natural gas use, and a 26 percent reduction in oil usage, allowing the district to save money, even with energy prices rising dramatically in the past few years, according to Drummond.

By reducing energy consumption, the district has not only saved on costs, but lowered its carbon footprint in the environment.

Reductions in the use of fossil fuels have resulted in the equivalent of 554 cars removed from the road for one year, Drummond told the board.

The company guarantees results. So, if the district saved less than $644,398 in annual savings the company projected, Siemans would pay Naugatuck the difference, according to Superintendent John Tindall-Gibson.

Tindall-Gibson said the program was indefinite and that the district planned to continue to find additional savings and use the company to maintain energy infrastructure as some parts become obsolete.

Board of Education Business Manager Wayne McAllister suggested the next phase of improvements should tie in with the long-term goals for the schools, which include possible renovations to the high school and reorganizing of other schools in the district.