Mt. Lebanon schools awarded for conservation

Published Sep 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm (Updated Sep 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm)

Mt. Lebanon School District saved some $5 million over the last 10 years through an energy conservation program that reduced utility usage across the district. Ross Kelly, regional president of Cenergistic, recognized the district’s achievement by presenting an award at the Sept. 9 school board discussion meeting.

“Long before these economic crises, long before energy conservation was ‘hip,’ this district embarked on a program to reduce consumption,” he said. “At the time the goal was to reduce long-term consumption by maybe 20 percent. You have not only achieved that but are now exceeding 30 percent.”

Kelly said Mt. Lebanon was a top-ranked district not only in Pennsylvania but also across the entire United States in terms of energy conservation. He added that so far this year the district reduced usage nearly 50 percent compared to baseline costs.

The Cenergistic conservation program emphasizes realizing numerous small efficiencies to reduce utility consumption. These include measures such as installing motion-activated lights. According to Kelly, the program’s goal is to achieve reductions without compromising the security, safety or comfort of staff and students.

The board also heard an update regarding the district’s high school renovation project. According to project manager Tom Berkebile, the athletic building should be ready for use in early November. Contractors are currently installing flooring in the gymnasium and preparing to tile the swimming pool. In addition, the county and municipality have granted limited occupancy for the sixth floor of the B Building, so students are beginning to use the facility.

Berkebile said August also saw a larger number of project change orders, more than 20 items covering a range of issues and totaling over $304,000.

Board member Dale Ostergaard expressed concern regarding the amount of these change orders. “Should we expect lists of this magnitude in the future?” he asked.

Rick Marciniak, project manager for Mt. Lebanon School District, explained that the pace of work in the summer months caused certain change orders to pile up. He added that he and the administration conducted an extensive review of all the items on the list with contractors and construction manager PJ Dick.

According to Mr. Berkebile, about 55 percent of project costs have been billed to date, and around 45 percent of the budgeted contingency has been used.

School board member Mary Birks emphasized that contingency funds are included in the renovation’s $109 million budget.

“I want people in the community to know this is not something extra,” she said.

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