Palmerton looks at energy-saving school projects
Two often-discussed projects in Palmerton Area School District may get the green light by March should the prices be right.
Palmerton’s school board this week moved forward with getting cost estimates on window replacements at its high school and construction of a secured vestibule entrance at S.S. Palmer Elementary School.
The district tabbed the McClure Company to do an investment grade audit of its facilities, and Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associates to do a feasibility study for the Palmer entrance and project scope determination.
The purpose of the audit, according to the motion, is to develop final pricing and savings for the possibility of entering into a guaranteed energy savings agreement.
“This is at no cost to the district today,” said Alyssa Wingenfield, account executive with McClure. “We’ll walk contractors around, do the schematic design and come back with some budgets.”
Should the district move forward from there, according to Tuesday’s motion, Crabtree would then receive 6.5% of the board approved construction budget. Director Barry Scherer voted against the Crabtree motion, saying he wanted to see the estimates the firm came back with before committing to the 6.5% fee.
Both Wingenfield and Eric Snyder, of Keystone Consulting Engineers, the district’s engineering firm of record, said 6.5% was in the standard range for an architect’s fee.
“We could be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we delay this,” Audrey Larvey, board vice-president, said. “If we delay, the project cost could get higher or Crabtree may come back and want a higher percentage. We’re not obligated to pay them anything if we don’t approve the budget they come back with.”
Board President Kathy Fallow concurred, noting that the board made Tuesday’s meeting a voting session in large part to move along a window replacement project, which has already seen delays.
According to a timeline provided by Wingenfield, if the board likes the project estimates it receives, it could vote to approve the projects in March.
“Permitting would then take place in April, with mobilization in May and the construction taking place over summer break,” she added.
McClure has overseen energy savings projects in two neighboring districts; Northern Lehigh and Lehighton.
In 2015, Lehighton approved $25.7 million in renovations to its middle and high schools with the McClure Company installing a four-pipe central heat pump system in the schools for $7.72 million.
Because it was an energy savings, or ESCO, project, McClure guaranteed the district over $80,000 per year in utility savings.
Northern Lehigh entered into a guaranteed energy savings agreement with McClure Company, which will guarantee 20-year energy and operational savings of $5 million on a project that includes HVAC upgrades at the high school and middle school, roofing upgrades, and districtwide LED lighting upgrades.