VIP Focus: Unlocking New Educational Resources

Energy Efficiency Helps Offset Shrinking School Budget Allowances

DashBoard, April 6, 2016

Consumers EnergyAs Michigan school board members are forced to do more with less, many of you are looking for reliable options to cut operating costs to direct more resources into educational programming.

Energy efficiency has led to new opportunities for Michigan’s K-12 districts. Through targeted incentives designed to offset costs and simplify financing, Michigan schools have received more than $13 million in rebates since 2009, and are expected to save more than $140 million on energy costs over the lifetime of the improvements.

Common areas of energy efficiency opportunities include:

  • Lighting upgrades and occupancy sensors
  • HVAC and boiler tune-ups
  • Automated climate control systems and smart thermostats
  • Kitchen, oven and refrigeration upgrades
  • Envelope and insulation improvements

For example, replacing one high-pressure sodium lamp in a gymnasium or parking lot with a high-efficiency LED fixture, can help you save between $100 and $150 per lamp annually—money that can be reinvested in the classroom. Incentives for replacement costs range between $25-65 per fixture.

Beyond energy savings, many districts benefit by having a more comfortable learning environment with classrooms that are better lit and have more consistent temperatures.

ROI and Successful Bond Proposals

School districts have implemented energy efficiency upgrades as part of districtwide renovations or as targeted projects. In most cases, low-interest financing is available to cover costs and many districts have highlighted energy efficiency programs as part of bond issue proposals.

East Jackson Community Schools recently received a Consumers Energy 2015 Project of the Year award for its energy efficiency upgrades as part of a $14 million bond proposal to renovate East Jackson Elementary. The board promoted energy efficiency as a major portion of the bond proposal approved by voters.

“Energy efficiency is a win-win for districts, Superintendent Patrick Little said. “You win with rebates, you win with long-term energy and cost savings, and you win with the community, knowing more resources are going to educate students.”

To help with financing, Consumers Energy can review your plans to maximize savings, and include incentives that may further offset costs. With the combination of incentives and energy savings, many districts can see a two- to three-year return on investment depending on the scope of the project.

Getting Started

First, contact your district’s natural gas and electric providers. We have specialists who can assess energy efficiency opportunities and match you with rebates. Second, reach out to your district’s facilities managers and engineering firms to develop your district’s plans, either as part of a larger renovation program or as a stand-alone effort.

Your district can unlock operational efficiencies that will help you provide more resources to educational programming.

For more information, contact Thomas Shirilla, Business Account Manager or visit

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

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