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Energy efficiency goal of Mabton schools

Dave Ray of McKinstry, a Spokane consulting firm, details the benefits of an interagency agreement with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services. The partnership will allow the Mabton School District to move forward with energy efficiency projects with oversight by the state.

Photo by Jennie McGhan.
Dave Ray of McKinstry, a Spokane consulting firm, details the benefits of an interagency agreement with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services. The partnership will allow the Mabton School District to move forward with energy efficiency projects with oversight by the state.

MABTON – The heating system at Artz-Fox Elementary School is beyond its years, heating and air controls throughout the Mabton School District are minimal or non-existent, and lighting throughout the district needs to be upgraded.

That is the analysis provided in a preliminary energy efficiency audit report provided by McKinstry, a consulting firm in Spokane that works with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services.

Tuesday, the Mabton School Board held a special meeting to hear the analysis, during which time Dave Ray of McKinstry said a top priority for the district should be updating the heating and air conditioning system at the elementary school.

He said the current system is outdated and there are numerous costs to the school district associated with keeping the system running.

McKinstry works with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services to help school districts throughout the state improve energy efficiency.

“We provide projects that meet the financial criteria for a district…the district selects priority projects,” Ray said.

To complete energy efficiency projects, he said it is advisable that the Mabton School District apply for grant funding from the state.

Ray said the next grant deadline is in February and if the school district wishes to move forward, McKinstry can complete an investment grade audit to determine the costs of upgrades to the school district’s heating, air and lighting systems.

The school district, Ray said, would determine which projects are a priority based on the investment grade audit. The district would then determine what funds are available for the project, which could be used as matching funds for the grant.

Through a partnership between the school district and the Department of Enterprise Services, there is a guaranteed savings and oversight for any project decided upon, Ray explained.

If the district is not awarded a grant, McKinstry and the school board would have to determine which portion of the project it wanted to complete based on current funding levels.

“This is a collaboration,” said Ray, stating he believes the Mabton School District is in a good position for grant funding.

In addition to evaluating projects that are a priority for the school district, McKinstry can help the district develop a capital projects plan.

That plan, said Ray, will help the school district determine when and how it can complete projects in the future.

Mabton School District Finance Director Gina Grow said the district has $480,000 in its capital projects fund that could be used for projects like those that are included in the preliminary energy efficiency audit report.

Ray said the capital match for the grant is 3-to-1, and he believes it will improve the district’s ability to complete a larger project.

“We want to get the best project put together,” he said.

As a result of the presentation, the Mabton School Board approved an interagency agreement with the Department of Enterprise Services by a 4-0 vote. The agreement will allow McKinstry to move forward with the investment grade audit, which Ray anticipates will be prepared by mid-January for consideration.

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