EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the Bourne School Committee’s vote on a plan to make school buildings more energy efficient. The official vote was 6 in favor. One member was absent.
BOURNE — The School Committee voted 6-0 Wednesday to support a plan to make four buildings more energy efficient, but the long-awaited replacement of a leaking Bourne Middle School roof is no longer a top priority.
Trane Technologies of Wilmington has a proposal before the the town for an emergency management services program to reduce energy consumption with improvements such as new heating and air conditioning systems.
School Board members were initially pleased during with the $3.7 million Phase 1 proposal for the district, part of an overall $5.2 million plan to make all town buildings “greener,” but there was dismay over the middle school roof project being relegated to secondary status.
In 2020, work on the middle school roof was estimated to cost $5 million, according to town records.
Roof work affected by solar panels
District Business Services Manager Jordan Geist said some “fixes” and upgrades have been made at the middle school to deal with leaks. Some have worked out well; some have not, he said.
Town Administrator Marlene McCollem said solar panels installed atop the school in 2010 must be removed to make way for roof work, adding there is a solar power purchase agreement in effect through 2025.
The town is negotiating with the solar provider to decide whether the solar array be taken down right away or a year early as otherwise provided in the contract, she said.
“What is the cost for that?” McCollem said. “There will be a financial impact. No question. But they have to be removed to get at the roof under them.”
School Board members said leaks have long been a top concern with general agreement they would be fixed without delay with capital spending.
Town meeting to decided $5.2M plan for buildings
However, the roof is relegated to Phase 2 in Trane’s wider energy-efficiency plans for all town buildings, notably put off until 2025.
Trane’s plans for all municipal buildings will face special Town Meeting review in October. The proposal includes a two-decade lease agreement. Trane provides a single contractor package deal: design, installation, service and energy savings.
McCollem said she expects that annual debt service payments would be kept under $500,000.
Trane representatives have said the town would post a 17% reduction in energy spending.
Priority items for the schools include Bourne High School roof replacement above the D Wing, insulation work, replaced transformers, refrigeration upgrades, weather stripping, and unit ventilators in classrooms to measure buildups of carbon dioxide.
Trane representatives have said utility rebates and energy savings over the years would help the town reduce upfront costs. The net effect would allow the town and the school district to deal with deferred maintenance of facilities and reduce the capital spending on Bourne’s five-year plan.
The middle school roof, meanwhile, remains a complicated issue.
In 2020, Geist, the business services manager, said only two of 50 rooms surveyed on the school's second floor did not have an active or previous leak. District officials said they wanted to determine the cost of a feasibility study for the project and determine whether the Massachusetts School Building Authority would help fund the project.
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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Bourne school board supports plan for more energy efficient buildings