Vermont Schools Continue to Reap Benefits from Energy Performance Contracting

Replacement of windows and unit ventilators in the original (1961) section of Otter Valley Union High School are among the many improvements being made through an energy savings performance contract between the district and Johnson Controls.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon, Vermont, is the third district in the past three years in the Rutland region to undertake major building improvement projects paid for with energy cost savings through a partnership with Johnson Controls. The two are implementing a $3.6-million energy performance contract that will help the school make much-needed upgrades to the building and dramatically reduce its carbon emissions, while paying for the improvements over the next 18 years through substantial energy cost savings.

One major element of the project, a 227kW solar photovoltaic array on the school’s roof that would produce half of the amount of electricity used by the school annually, is on hold pending resolution by the state’s Public Service Board and local utilities, including Green Mountain Power, of a logjam over further approvals of grid-connected solar projects across the state.

Over the past few years, the school budgeted nearly $300,000 a year to meet its energy needs. With the fully implemented energy performance contract, the school expects to spend closer to $100,000 a year in heating fuels and electricity, while making an annual payment of about $160,000 to pay for the project, which also includes the installation of a wood pellet boiler to supply most of the school’s heating needs, as well as replacement of 42 classroom unit ventilators and all the windows that are original to the 1961 portion of the building.

Prior to working with Otter Valley, Johnson Controls has partnered with the Rutland City Schools in 2014 to make $5.2-million in improvements to its six schools, while Proctor School District implemented $1.6-million worth of upgrades during the summer of 2015.

The Otter Valley upgrades are well under way and should be completed by the end of summer or early fall 2016. In addition to the window and unit ventilator replacements and addition of the wood pellet boiler, other major improvements at the 101,000-square-foot high school include:

  • Unifying the building’s three separate heat circulation loops, a legacy of the school’s 1983 and 1991 additions, and upgrading its heating and ventilation controls system to provide better comfort and efficiency
  • Installing energy recovery ventilation systems in the gymnasium and auditorium and demand-controlled ventilation in the cafeteria
  • Improving the interior lighting system, including installing efficient and dimmable LED lamps and controls, and upgrading parking lot lighting to LED technology

Johnson Controls helped establish energy performance contracting in 1983 and has implemented more than 3,000 energy performance contracts in North America alone, including many at high schools, four-year colleges and universities, technical colleges and community colleges. For more info, visit