Gov. Phil Bredesen was in Murfreesboro Friday afternoon to highlight a new state program to make schools greener and tour John Pittard Elementary School.
The Energy Efficient Schools Initiative of 2008 uses excess lottery funds to award grants and loans to school systems across the state with qualifying energy-efficiency projects.
Murfreesboro City’s John Pittard Elementary, opened in 2007, is a model for energy-efficient schools. Among other features, the facility operates with a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system.
“We want to have this happen at other schools across the state,” Bredesen said.
The funds can be used by school systems to install geothermal systems in new schools, or even retrofit old schools with the system, replace old, drafty windows and install energy-efficient lighting.
Bredesen said these strategies may cost more on the front end, but in the long run they save money and keep more cash for education.
“The more efficient schools are, the more money in the budget for other things like teachers,” said Jean Ann Rogers, State Board of Education member.
State Sen. Jim Tracy echoed Rogers.
“This law will help get kids out of portables and into classrooms. It will save school systems thousands of dollars by being more energy efficient,” Tracy said.
Both Murfreesboro City Schools and Rutherford County Schools have saved thousands by installing geothermal HVAC systems in new schools.
At Pittard Elementary, which opened last year and is the first geothermal city school, it costs less than half to heat and cool than that of a similar style school with traditional HVAC systems.
When installed, the half-million dollar system was supposed to pay for itself in five years. The system is so efficient, it’ll pay back this year.
RCS has installed the systems in its most recently built schools, like Stewarts Creek Elementary and Middle schools, La Vergne Lake Elementary and Rockvale Middle School.
To read how Rockvale Middle’s system works, click here.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or email@example.com.