Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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Solar Panels Removed from Middle School Project
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2018-04-18

            Solar panels will not be included in Upper Perkiomen's new middle school. Last week, the school board approved a change order directing the electrical contractor to remove the panels from the project. The move will reduce $193,396 from the cost of the construction on Montgomery Avenue in Upper Hanover, according to the April 12 public meeting agenda.

            The members cast the vote after learning that they were not selected to receive a $2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development.

            In March, the board voted to include the panels in the construction of a new school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders on Montgomery Avenue in Upper Hanover. The move would have allowed the building to be designated a Gold certification 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 – and allow it to apply for an Alternative and Clean Energy Program Grant.

            The project will retain its Silver LEEDs designation, according to board Vice President Mike Elliot.

            District officials have discussed making the school LEEDs Gold compliant for several months. In April of 2017, the board voted 8-1 to rescind a full-service LEEDs Commissioning Services contract with In Posse and award it to Aramark Management Services, LP. The agreement calls for the district to pay the new company up to $118,043 in order to help school officials comply with LEED's standards.

            In March, the members voted to spend more than $206,000 to add solar panels to the project as a contract alternative in order to apply for the ACE grant. D'Huy Engneering, Inc. – the company managing the construction – applied for the ACE grant on behalf of the district, according to Superintendent Alexis McGloin. She said during the March 8 meeting that the company has gotten every ACE grant it has applied for.

            "That does not mean it's a gimme," McGloin said during the meeting. "But we are really hopeful it will happen."

            During a presentation to the board at the same meeting, project manager M. Arif Fazil, 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. He also recommended that the members approve the implementation of 216 solar modules at the new school so it would allow the building to become a Gold certified facility.

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

            In related news, the board voted to submit PlanCon Part H to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the new middle school. District officials agreed to submit financing documents as part of the process towards the goal of an eventual reimbursement from the state.

            The members also approved a three-year extension with the district's auditor. Gorman & Associates, P.C., of Northampton, will continue to complete the district's legally required audit through 2019-20 school year.

            Elliot ran the meeting. He said the board President Kerry Drake was out of town on business.


 

 

 

 

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