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Critical Infrastructure Improvement Project Enhances Student Learning

Silver Valley Unified School District (USD) recently completed a project with energy and sustainability expert, Schneider Electric, to fund critical infrastructure improvements and create a more comfortable learning environment for their high-achieving students. The funding was supplied through energy and operational savings guaranteed via an energy savings performance contract (ESPC). The project serves the entire school district, half of which sits on the Fort Irwin Army base in Fort Irwin, California.

Silver Valley USD serves over 2,000 students and has accomplished several impressive achievements in recent years such as becoming the highest performing district in California’s high desert and having a 100 percent Graduation rate at Silver Valley High School in 2018 and 2019. In addition, the district has received honors including California Distinguished School in 2019, California Honor Roll Schools in 2019 and a $1.25 million STEM Grant from the Department of Defense in 2018. While the district was experiencing immense success on so many of their initiatives, administrators realized their facilities were in need of repair and upgrades. Unable to pass a local bond, the district sought creative ways to bring improved technology, comfort and longevity to their schools.

“Thank you and kudos for everyone involved in the Energy Saving, Schneider Project,” said Karen Gray, President of the School Board. “Together, Silver Valley and Schneider Electric established well-designed, energy savings options, student engagement, and systems that improve our learning environment, maximizing taxpayer dollars while minimizing climate impact.”

The partnership with Schneider Electric allowed Silver Valley USD to secure financing, upgrade antiquated equipment and use the savings generated to reinvest in their school environments. Silver Valley USD chose Schneider Electric as a partner due to the company’s proven expertise working with California school districts and their ability to help them reduce costs.

“Schneider Electric has been a critical partner in helping us realize more savings than we thought were possible,” said Jesse Najera, Superintendent of Silver Valley USD. “It was important to upgrade our buildings but being able to deliver significant savings that we can pour directly back into the classroom is the icing on the cake as we move forward with this partnership.”

The project features several infrastructure upgrades that has made the learning environment more comfortable for students and faculty, including:

  • Interior / exterior LED lighting
  • Occupancy sensor replacements
  • Optimized building automation system
  • HVAC unit replacements
  • Multi-purpose room ceiling replacements

Overall, the project is expected to result in over $200,000 worth of annual energy savings, which equates to 1,421,524 kWh of energy saved each year. Schneider Electric presented a savings update report to the Silver Valley USD Board of Education in January 2021 that proves the project is well on its way to meet and possibly exceed these projections.

With additional stimulus funding becoming available, many California districts are looking to acquire, maximize and implement these dollars in an impactful way. Use this checklist to prepare for upcoming funding opportunities.