Lindsay Unified School District has been upgrading its outdated electrical and mechanical equipment, which have been draining the district’s financial resources for years.
Since 2020, the district has been replacing old, outdated equipment to reduce its operating costs as well as lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces.
The district finished its second phase of installments in early March, having installed smart building controls; LED lighting; new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units; and solar panels.
“This program has a direct impact on our ability to empower and motivate our community,” said Grant Schimelpfening, chief business official for the district. “By undertaking such a large feat that is securing millions of dollars in savings for our general fund and preventing greenhouse gas emissions from polluting our environment, we hope that our learners, in particular, see that even despite great odds, progress is possible.”
The district started its energy conservation and environmental sustainability program in 2017. Under financial constraints, the district tackled what recommendations it could from an energy audit report created by staff and its partner, a building technologies firm named Climatec.
In the first phase, the district was able to install max-efficiency LED lights and smart temperature controls in sections of its campuses.
In 2019, after identifying new funding sources, as well as reconfirming energy improvement needs and sustainability measures, the district’s board approved Phase II. Combined, both phases cost nearly $3.3 million, all of which was funded without bond or general fund dollars.
The district’s creative funding approach used sources, such as Southern California Edison’s incentive programs and private sector financing at historically low interest rates. Savings from implementing these improvements are estimated to cover the cost of the entire program and preliminary reports indicate the district is already well ahead of initial projections.
“Lindsay Unified School District is looking at more than $8 million in savings and 1,018 metric tons in reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the lifespan of the new equipment,” said Tyler Girtman, regional manager at Climatec. “These are significant figures that tell just how ahead of the curve this district is in the areas of energy efficiency and sustainability.
“Most importantly, these budget savings will come during a crucial period of sustained budget cuts from the state and rate hikes from SCE. The district will now have more budget flexibility to put into learner and staff enrichment.”
The district's savings consist of $6.2 million in operating savings and $1.9 million in avoided capital expenses that would have gone to repairing or replacing the old equipment. Just over Phase II’s construction period alone, the district has achieved an additional $150,000 in utility cost savings.