Ithaca Schools Looks to Innovative Energy Assessment to Free Up Dollars

A week away from putting out a $113,774,956 budget that will need a supermajority—at least 60 percent of voters—and increase the property tax levy by 8.87 percent and increase the tax rate by 5.67 percent, the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) is looking to make every dollar count. One way the district hopes to get money back down the road is by using energy more efficiently through an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) conducted by Trane Heating and Air Condition Services and Novae Engineers.

ICSD entered into the contract for the assessment last year and the results are expected to be presented to the district in early June. Neal Reaser, of Trane, and Mark Ditch of Novae gave the district an update of the EPC during the Tuesday, May 13 Board of Education (BOE) public meeting.

“Basically what we were brought in to do was evaluate all of your buildings and facilities,” Reaser said, “and look for ways to save money, whether it might be lighting upgrades, pluming upgrades, advance control upgrades with the air handling and boiling system. We evaluate all of these particular systems and we come up with ideas on how to optimize them.”

Reaser added that any work conducted after the assessment through the EPC guarantees the district will have a “return of investment” of 18 years. All work done must fit within those parameters, according to the contract. He explained that once the assessment is completed, the district will be presented with “a shopping list of things that save money” and that every district prioritizes those recommendations differently.

One hot topic in ICSD at the moment is the conditions of its bathrooms. Several students presented the BOE with concerns of the Ithaca High School (IHS) bathrooms at the beginning of the meeting, noting that the majority of facilities were stricken with faulty locks—if any—toilet paper dispensers, broken sinks and damaged mirrors. It is unknown at the moment if the EPC will offer a way to resolve those issues while saving money, or perhaps find other ways to save money to allow the district to address its bathroom concerns of which board members unanimously agreed must be dealt with.

By Michael Nocella reporter@ithacatimes.com