South Routt School District Updated Boiler (courtesy of McKinstry)

South Routt School District was one of the last school districts in Colorado to use coal to heat school buildings. Through guaranteed energy savings performance contracting (GESPC), the District was able to replace the old, outdated and inefficient coal boiler with geothermal heat pumps, a woody biomass boiler, and a back-up propane furnace.

Coal is very cheap and it was difficult to show a positive financial return by replacing coal with more, efficient, and more expensive fuel sources. Fortunately other upgrades produced enough cost savings to warrant the upgrades. For instance, by replacing propane as the primary fuel source with woody mass as the primary fuel source, the district will save the county $10,000 each year and the woody mass is sourced from local sources.

Trident helped the District understand the GESPC process, the cost and health benefits of upgrading old and inefficient equipment, review technical documents delivered by the Energy Service Company, and participated in site visits to ensure the successful implementation of the energy performance contract.

The total project cost was approximately $4,000,000 and received nearly $3,800,000 in grant and bonding financing. The District received approximately $2,100,000 in CDE grants, $600,000 in Department of Local Affairs grants, and $75,000 in Governor’s Energy Office grants. 

Although the District did not experience significant cost savings resulting from improved energy efficiency, the District will significantly reduce its energy use and will save between $10,000 and $15,000 in lower operation and maintenance costs each year. Classrooms and the school yard will now be free of coal dust and indoor air quality will be significantly improved. The District is reducing their carbon footprint and reducing their impact on the environment by using local wood sources and geoexchange heating and cooling.