Berkeley County Schools are saving money this year as they continue installing new geothermal heating and cooling systems in schools.
So far, three schools in the county have been updated for the energy saving project. The project includes switching to geothermal systems in seven schools and replacing more than 24 thousand light fixtures in 18 months.
The superintendent said it will save the district $1.7 million in a year. So far, in the past eight weeks, he said they have saved about $300,000.
“So now you have total silence in the classroom during instruction,” said Manny Arvon, superintendent, Berkeley County Schools. “It is so conducive to learning, so we are not only changing the environment; we are making the learning environment better along with the climate.”
Much of the work will be done this year, with Mill Creek Intermediate School, and Opequon and Valley View elementary schools slated to get geothermal systems installed this summer.
The new systems will be installed in Berkeley Heights, Gerrardstown, Rosemont and Tuscarora elementary schools in the summer of 2017.
Currently, Berkeley County Schools spends a little over $5.5 million in utilities and maintenance. According to CMTA Energy Solutions, the utility escalation rate for Berkeley County is 5 percent while the state of West Virginia’s is 3.4 percent and the national rate is 2.8 percent.
If the school district were to continue at the rate it is going within five years it would be spending over $6.6 million on utilities and maintenance, in 10 years it would be spending over $8.2 million and in 15 years it would be spending over $10.4 million.
Not only will Berkeley County Schools save money, but this project will move the county to a state leader in energy efficiency. Avron said he hopes that its decision to make this transformation will encourage more people to rethink the way they consume energy.