School District Leverages $28 Million in Savings to Fund Infrastructure Modernization

January 19, 2021

Project Highlights

Preparing infrastructure for the future is at the heart of the new Richland County School District One project

The project enables tens of millions in energy savings to fund health and safety overhauls

Improving building air quality for a healthy learning environment is a critical component of the project


Richland County School District One selected energy and sustainability expert, Schneider Electric, to implement a district-wide comprehensive infrastructure modernization project designed to enhance health and productivity in the learning environment while optimizing the district’s utility and operations budgets. The project is financed through a guaranteed energy savings performance contract (ESPC) that will save the school district more than $28 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Facing deferred maintenance on critical infrastructure in several buildings related to aged lighting and outdated HVAC equipment, Richland One recognized this as a means to address these areas. To provide healthier and safer learning environments, the school district is partnering with Schneider Electric to implement an ESPC that will reduce utility and operational costs by 24% across 15 district buildings. Those savings will pay for further upgrades over time, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. As part of the program, Schneider Electric will partner with its local manufacturing facility within the district, employing more than 750 workers, to provide student learning opportunities and further partnerships to help the district.

“Providing a safe, healthy and enjoyable learning environment for our students and teachers is among our top priorities, especially now with new and changing regulations around indoor learning environments,” said Richland School District One Superintendent, Dr. Craig Witherspoon. “This program with Schneider Electric will allow us to make needed upgrades to our buildings in a much smarter, more efficient and most importantly, fiscally responsible way.”

Part of the project aims to tackle indoor air quality by updating the HVAC equipment to more efficiently move air, control temperature and increase outdoor air exchange rates. With indoor environment specifications being rolled out by government organizations, the district is laying the groundwork for better control of how air moves through all facilities and designing more specific and improved points of filtration. The changes will allow the district to be responsive to new regulations.

Richland School District One Director of Facility Services, Raymond Perkins says, “These are upgrades being recommended to all school districts, but it can also be costly to do. We have many needs in addition to air quality, so finding a way to bring all these distinct pieces together made all the difference.”

Schneider Electric will implement modern technologies that will generate savings and in turn create a revenue stream to help fund improvements across the district, such as:

  • Updated HVAC technology for cleaner environments and to regulate fresh outdoor air
  • Full district-wide telecommunications overhaul, improving district-wide emergency communications and providing flexibility for distance learning
  • Interior and exterior lighting upgrades to bring emergency lighting up to current building code standards
  • Replacement and upgrade of critical electrical infrastructure to reduce maintenance time and extend the life of the outdated systems
  • Upgrade and replacement of water and restroom fixtures to further reduce waste
  • Installation of a ‘smart-plugs’ network to manage high-load devices and improve energy efficiency
  • Building envelope improvements to renew aging buildings to better withstand extreme seasonal weather patterns and increase comfort for students and staff

“Our innovative solutions and transparent approach to energy infrastructure upgrades will provide tremendous savings for Richland County School District One,” said Justin Shutt, business development executive, Schneider Electric. “Plus, as a local employer, Schneider Electric is proud to be supporting the Richland County community by providing long-term cost savings to the school district and boosting the local economy with jobs that support the environment.”

Learn more about healthy building upgrades in this illustrated guide

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