ESPCs Stretch Budgets at the Bureau of Indian Affairs

April 1, 2002

The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has reduced energy costs, replaced inefficient lighting and aging building equipment, and installed renewable energy systems without huge increases in the BIA budget. The agency is accomplishing this at BIA schools and facilities with a Super Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC).

BIA's first four regional Super ESPC projects alone represent $12 million in infrastructure improvements that will reduce energy use more than 40 percent at four BIA sites. Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, California, is one good example. This project features several energy-efficient technologies, improves the facility's infrastructure, and includes a solar electric system to help provide uninterrupted power. The project will reduce energy use by almost 40 percent at the school and trim operations and maintenance (O&M) costs by nearly $30,000 per year.

Alternative Financing Enables Facility Upgrades

In 1997, BIA energy manager Bill Coursey began discussions with staff in the DOE Western Regional Office in Seattle. He wanted to know if ESPCs would be a solution to a major backlog in infrastructure repairs and equipment maintenance at BIA facilities. Working jointly, they determined that ESPCs could help BIA reduce the backlog, maintain or improve the comfort of its facilities, and reduce utility costs. Among other projects, a delivery order under the Western Regional Super ESPC was signed in 2000 for work needed at the Sherman Indian High School in Riverside.

Photovoltaic Energy System at SHerman Indian High School

This photovoltaic energy system is expected to provide nearly 7�kilowatts of clean solar electricity to the Sherman Indian High School campus.

Sherman Indian High School dates back to the early 1900s. Located on 88 acres, this boarding school serves from 350 to 650 students in approximately 500,000 square feet of facility space. Before the Super ESPC retrofits, annual energy and water use at the facility was estimated at 3,756 megawatthours of electricity, 140,743 therms of natural gas, and 36,818 cubic feet of water. Utility costs exceeded $450,000 per year.

SEMPRA Energy Solutions was selected as the energy service company for the Sherman Indian High School project under the Regional Super ESPC. SEMPRA agreed to install a new photovoltaic (PV) solar electric system as part of the project. The PV system had already been purchased with DOE funding, but it had not been installed because of budget constraints. Under the 22-year contract, SEMPRA guarantees the following:

  • Lighting retrofits and additional exterior lighting. High-efficiency electronic ballasts and T8 fluorescent lamps replaced all T12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts; LED signs replaced all incandescent exit signs. Occupancy sensors were installed in selected classroom and office areas, and exterior low-pressure sodium fixtures were replaced with metal halide lamps.

  • Installation of a 6.9-kilowatt PV system. The system includes PV modules, inverters, storage batteries, and programming to maximize output during peak energy-use periods. Training in PV system design and installation was provided for 15 local participants.

  • HVAC modifications in administrative and classroom buildings and one dormitory. Ten 30-year-old, multi-zone rooftop units were replaced with high-efficiency, single-zone units that allow true variable-air-volume system control, including economizer cycling. A boiler and hot water system in one dormitory was replaced with a gas-fired, forced-air HVAC system to allow heating and split-coil cooling.

  • Time clock controls for the weight room, HVAC, and waterwell pump. Time clocks were added to ventilation fans and HVAC units for the weight room to reduce operating hours and limit operation of the waterwell pump to off-peak periods.

  • Pool cover and ventilation controls. A new automatic pool cover and humidity ventilation control system is reducing excess humidity and heat loss during unoccupied periods.

  • Pool pump control. An adjustable speed drive was installed with a flow meter to control the pool filtration system and reduce flow during unoccupied periods.

These energy conservation measures (ECMs) provide new heating and cooling controls and greater energy efficiency at the site. New air-handling units give staff more time to maintain other systems around the campus. And a new computer station in one science classroom monitors the performance and output of the PV system, providing a basis for new curriculum materials.

The BIA maintains O&M activities for all the ECMs. SEMPRA is responsible for ensuring that all annual maintenance activities are carried out and for guaranteeing the performance of the rooftop units.

For more information, please contact Tatiana Strajnic of FEMP at 202-586-9230 or