Tuesday, September 25, 2018


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UPSD Considering $2 Million Grant for Middle School
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The addition of solar panels to the construction of the new middle school in Upper Hanover could allow the Upper Perkiomen School Board to receive a $2.084 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development.

            Last week, the person overseeing the construction of a new school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders on Montgomery Avenue suggested that the board spend more than $206,000 to implement the panels in order to allow it to be designated a Gold certification facility, which would allow it to apply for the Alternative and Clean Energy Program Grant.

            "We have set ourselves up very well for this grant," said M. Arif Fazil of D'Huy Engineering Inc., of Bethlehem, during the Feb. 22 workshop meeting. "We're going to net a significant amount of money." 

            Previously, Fazil recommended that the members reject the alternative bid to install the panels. Last week he repeated his opposition, claiming that the alternative is not cost effective. However, he argued that adding the solar panels is the only option to become eligible for the grant.

            The implementation of 216 solar modules at the new school would offset five percent of the building's electricity, according to the construction manager. That would account for an annual saving of $7,140 and provide a payback of more than 25 years, according to his slide presentation.

            However, Fazil suggested that they approve the solar panels anyway since it will allow the building to become a Gold certified facility by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.

            Only then could the district pursue the ACE grant, which is intended for the utilization, development and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state, according to the construction manager.

            During a presentation to the board, he ticked off several school district clients of his company that have received the grant, administered jointly by the DCED and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

            "In terms of a $2 million opportunity, there's nothing close like it out there," Fazil said. "It's a show stopper."

            According to Fazil, implementation of the solar panels is the only way to push the project from silver to gold on the LEEDs scoresheet. Vice President Mike Elloit said he is "on board" with making the new school a gold certified project.

            A resolution to approve the contract alternative will be included on the board's March 8 meeting agenda in order to meet the grant's deadline, according to Superintendent Alexis McGloin.

            The scheduled date for the grant award is May 22, according to Fazil. He said the deadline for the board to withdraw the solar alternate is June 14.

            "The timing could be an issue," Fazil said.





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