School District Rides Wave of Innovation and Sustainability

June 7, 2021
  • Schneider Electric to implement system-wide modernization project to boost the district’s energy efficiency, increase student engagement
  • Program implementation to reduce school system’s energy consumption by 33 percent, save it $6.4M over the next 20 years
  • Implementation of energy efficient technologies, legacy facility upgrades to generate savings that will create a revenue stream for future district needs

Gulf Shores City Schools (GSCS) in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Schneider Electric, energy and sustainability expert, today announced a partnership to implement a system-wide modernization project designed to boost the district’s sustainability and energy efficiency while increasing student engagement and STEM education opportunities. This capital recovery and reinvestment program will leverage innovative technologies to reduce the school system’s energy consumption by 33 percent, saving it $6.4 million over the next 20 years.

Opening its doors in 2019, GSCS’s goal is to “Make Waves” as one of the most innovative, state-of-the-art districts in the region. However, the infrastructure of its inherited facilities is in desperate need of repair and upgrade. The partnership with Schneider Electric is the district’s next step in achieving a best-in-class learning environment for students and staff. In addition to modernization efforts like implementing new HVAC and water systems, the project will include student engagement exhibits that provide for advanced and interactive learning areas throughout the three district schools.

“Providing a safe, healthy and enjoyable indoor and outdoor learning environment for our students and teachers is among our top priorities,” said Gulf Shores City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Matt Akin. “We’re thrilled to partner with Schneider Electric to not only make much-needed upgrades to our buildings, but also to do it in an innovative way that boosts critically important STEM learning while saving us money for future improvements.”

The capital recovery and reinvestment program will enable the district to implement energy efficient measures and the latest technologies to generate energy and operational savings. These savings will create a revenue stream to fund district needs in the future. Those measures and technologies include:

  • New HVAC systems for improved comfort, efficiency, and reliability
  • New water systems for reduced energy and water consumption and improved control
  • Roof replacement at the high school for more comfortable classrooms and spaces
  • New centralized building automation system at each school to increase control and efficiency
  • Comprehensive interior and exterior LED lighting upgrades for brighter, safer spaces
  • Solar skylights to increase natural light in dark interior areas
  • New Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system to provide faster emergency response times

In addition, the project includes several interactive learning areas throughout all three schools that boost the district’s sustainability while increasing student engagement and education opportunities, including:

  • Renewable energy generation, complete with interactive, touchscreen dashboards that show real-time data on energy produced, building temperatures, energy usage, and more.
  • SmartFlower solar arrays that track the sun throughout the day.
  • Solar-powered trees that provide shade and boost aesthetics.
  • More solar-powered technology throughout,  including solar benches in playground/sporting areas and solar charging stations.
  • Teaching exhibits that feature stations such as the Earth’s ecosystems and plant life cycles for expanded outdoor classroom opportunities.

Along with its energy savings from efficiency upgrades, the district was able to take advantage of recent federal stimulus funding to help pay for these improvements. Through passage of the American Rescue Plan, K-12 school districts nationwide are set to receive $123 billion in federal funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GSCS will use a portion of these additional dollars to improve indoor air quality within each school by installing new HVAC systems.

“We are proud to partner with Gulf Shores City Schools on innovative solutions that provide a healthy, safe and sustainable learning environment,” said Tammy Fulop, VP, Schneider Electric. “As districts struggle to do more with less, we are excited to help GSCS become a leading example of how to address top priorities and create a state-of-the-art campus while saving money for future upgrades.”

Schneider Electric has a long record of success with similar partnerships across Alabama, having designed and implemented facility improvements to 49 clients, saving them over $340 million. Nationwide, the company has successfully implemented nearly 850 ESPC projects, saving partners more than $3 billion. 

For more information on how Schneider Electric helps school districts tackle their top priorities with energy efficiency, visit se.com/us/enable.   

 

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