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Lowe’s Pays for Inmates to Make N.C. Schools Energy Efficient

North Carolina inmates have been making energy-efficiency repairs to public schools during this winter break. This is the second year of a program using prison workers to make energy cost saving improvements at public schools. It is paid for by a $100,000 contribution by Lowe’s Companies.

Seventy-three schools in 10 school systems made requests to the Department of Public Instruction to receive the weatherization work. The school systems are: Alamance-Burlington, Cherokee, Gates, Lincoln, Montgomery, Rowan-Salisbury, Scotland, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin. Last year, 66 schools in 12 school systems had repair work done.

That’s just one of the energy conservation resources announced by North Carolina Governor Easley to make schools more energy efficient. Easley also encouraged public school facility managers to take advantage of a program through which the state shares the costs of facility energy audits, steam trap surveys, and servicing heating and air conditioning and boiler systems for public schools.

Programs include Facility Energy Audits, which identify where school buildings are using or leaking unnecessary energy. The audits are performed by the North Carolina State University Industrial Extension Service through a partnership with the State Energy Office. The State Energy Office funds $1,400 of the $2,000 audit cost. Average annual recommended savings per audit are more than $46,000.

The State Energy Office also provides support for a Steam Trap Survey Program for facilities that use steam for heating and/or processing. These services enable facilities to identify steam loss, thereby saving energy and money. The State Energy Office covers up to 80 percent of the survey cost.

The heating and air conditioning Controls Tune-up Program helps schools improve energy efficiency and reliability, conserve energy and reduce the facilities’ energy bills. The State Energy Office reimburses $1,000 of the cost of each tune-up, with a 50 percent match from the facility site.

The Boiler Tune-up Program assists state facility directors in improving the operating efficiency of their boilers. The State Energy Office contributes $500 toward the cost of each tune-up. The subsidy is about 50 percent of the expected costs. The program addresses boilers greater than 50 horsepower.

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