$5 million in conservation savings earns honor for Mt. Lebanon

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Mt. Lebanon School District has been honored for conservation efforts that have saved about $5 million in the past decade.

During Monday's school board discussion meeting, Ross Kelly, regional president of energy conservation firm Cenergistic, presented an award to district officials.

Mt. Lebanon started working with Cenergistic almost 10 years ago to launch a program to reduce energy consumption, with an initial goal of dropping it by 20 percent.

Mr. Kelly said efforts have been more successful than anticipated, with consumption down 50 percent this year compared with figures prior to the start of the program.

"It places you among the top districts in the country," he told the board. "It's an extraordinary story."

By lowering usage, the district has saved a cumulative $5.628 million, according to Cenergistic's figures.

"That is the dollars that otherwise would have gone to utility companies," Mr. Kelly explained.

He credited district staff members with concentrating on "hundreds and hundreds of little things" that might each seem inconsequential on its own but have added up substantially over the years.

School board member Dan Remely said many of the energy-saving measures have been integrated into Mt. Lebanon's high school renovation project, such as installing motion sensors.

"If there's no live motion in a room, the lights are out, automatically," he said.

Dallas-based Cenergistic helps clients build action plans identifying energy-savings opportunities, providing data and technological expertise for successful implementation.

Also during Monday's meeting:

• An update on the high school renovation was provided by Tom Berkebile of P.J. Dick, construction manager for the project. He said work is proceeding with the goal of having the new science and athletic buildings ready for use in early November.

Mr. Berkebile also detailed $304,509 in change orders submitted to the board for action at its regular meeting next week. So far, the district has spent 45 percent of the $4.28 million built into the project's budget as a contingency for change orders, he said.

As of Aug. 31, the district had been billed $49.1 million, representing 55 percent of total construction costs. The project is 20 months into a 41-month time frame, with completion expected in mid-2015.

• Board members discussed replacing the simulator for driver's education and a plan to approve a $131,593 purchase next week. Tuition from the continuing education program is expected to pay for the unit in the next three to six years, according to district estimates.

• The board also discussed an upgrade to the door security and camera software systems at the district's elementary and middle schools. The board next week plans to approve a $41,289 contract with Florida-based property protection firm Simplex Grinnell to provide the software, which will be compatible with the new system being installed at the renovated high school.

education - neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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