In 2012, California voters approved Proposition 39, which closed a billion dollar corporate tax loophole, with 61% percent of the vote. By statute, half the “Prop 39” revenue – nearly $500 million each year – is earmarked for energy efficiency upgrades in K-12 schools and community colleges in California. Each of the State’s 1,200 school districts, as well as independent charter schools, stands to receive an allocation of funds every year for the next five years.
To assist school districts through the morass of facility assessments and reporting requirements, and to ensure that districts are able to maximize the greatest possible utility savings, we are pleased to join forces with Climate Resolve, an organization influential in galvanizing support for Prop 39 and shaping its guidelines. Together, we are two organizations with deep roots in energy efficiency and project management. EcoMotion and Climate Resolve have come together to form “Climate Smart Schools.”
“The mission of Climate Smart Schools is to help school districts achieve the best value for their Prop 39 allocations. We’re the honest broker and a sound starting point for districts seeking to chart a strategic course for the next five years,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve.
Already, vendors of all types are lined at district doors seeking a piece of the multi-billion action. They address efficiency with different lenses, as well as financing offers.“Lighting companies want to sell lights, solar companies want to sell solar. Its natural behavior,” commented Ted Flanigan, EcoMotion’s President. “We formed to help districts figure out what makes most sense for them within the Prop 39 guidelines, bundling retrofits, incorporating financing, and sequencing technologies, linking with modernization programs and other district objectives.”
There are a range of school district sizes in the state. Los Angeles Unified is by far and away the largest with an average daily attendance of 508,000 students. Its FY 13/14 Prop 39 allocation is $28 million. Small districts like Laguna Beach Unified with 2,800 students will get about $118,000 per year; Palm Springs Unified with 21,000 students will receive $1.1 million per year. These sums are not trivial. For every dollar wisely spent on energy efficiency, districts can save $4 that can go to educating students.
“Districts can augment their Prop 39 allocation through utility incentives and services, and are allowed to leverage third party financing to build on allocated funds,” said Flanigan, who serves as Project Director of Climate Smart Schools.He continued, “Many districts have old lighting and ventilation systems.LED lighting affords opportunities for better light at less cost. Climate Smart Schools aims to target and upgrade the least efficient facilities and leave districts with savings that can be put back into the classroom. Climate Smart Schools recommends that a share of the savings be directed to green revolving funds to leverage savings and extend the value of the funding.”
Climate Smart Schools offers a suite of eight services for districts that can be bundled into a comprehensive service – from assessments to submittals, implementation, and reporting – or unbundled to suit the specific needs of a district. “We’re now working for Garden Grove Unified School District. It has 47 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 9 high schools, plus administrative, maintenance, and bus yards. Our job for the next three years is to manage the Prop 39 funds for the district, linking with its capital improvements schedule and activities, and maximizing energy and dollar savings,” said Flanigan.