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Lighting and HVAC upgrades expected to lower utility costs for Princeton School District

Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook and Riverside schools all have new LED lighting throughout the buildings, including classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, restrooms and offices, thanks in part to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP).

The new LED bulbs provide a similar “cool white” light as the old fluorescent lights, but they last twice as long, are more energy-efficient and will save the district money, according to information provided by Sustainable Princeton.

 

“It’s a win-win. Our staff won’t need to change bulbs nearly as often, and the district gets to lower its utility bill,” Matt Bouldin, business administrator for Princeton Public Schools, said in the statement. “We are always looking for ways to reduce our operating costs and implement more sustainable practices.”

In addition to new lighting, the district made other energy-saving improvements, according to the statement. Dozens of new HVAC units were installed under the NJCEP’s Direct Install Program, replacing inefficient systems that were more than 15 years old. Several mini-splits and a heat pump were replaced with energy-efficient versions, and hot water heaters were upgraded.

The NJCEP’s Direct Install Program is a statewide program that helps uncover energy savings in small businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations. It covered 80% of the cost of the district’s upgrades, allowing the district to pay about $114,000 for a $571,000 project.

Taken together, the new lighting and upgrades to the heating and cooling systems mean substantial savings for the district, according to the statement.

“The next step is upgrading our building control management system,” David Harding, director of Plant and Operations, said in the statement. “We are currently working to get all of our new HVAC units connected to centralized control. A building management system will allow us to monitor, temperature, humidity, and unit operations for improved efficiency across the district, while being more proactive and responsive to our students and staff, and able to monitor and improve our use of electricity.”

“We applaud Princeton Public Schools’ progress on these improvements. Changing light bulbs and making HVAC upgrades may not be the first thing most of us think about when considering how to reduce our impact on the planet, but it has big implications,” Molly Jones, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, said in the statement.

“Two-thirds of our local greenhouse gas emission production comes from heating, cooling, and electrifying our buildings, so if every property owner made energy efficiency improvements like these, they could lower their annual costs and help to reduce Princeton’s carbon footprint,” she said.

The school isn’t the only organization able to benefit from these savings, according to the statement. Small businesses and nonprofits are also eligible for this statewide program that helps uncover hidden energy savings. With Direct Install, customers repay as little as 20% of the total costs and get to lower their operating costs. A range of businesses and nonprofits have already taken advantage of this program, including Princeton Public Library, Whole Earth Center, and Princeton Orthopedics.

 

“We are eager to speak with any local businesses who want to learn more about the Direct Install program,” Jones said in the statement.

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