Cornish Elementary School

Cornish, NH

Big Savings at a Small School

Cornish Elementary School is home to only 95 students. But despite the small footprint, energy costs were three times higher than that of neighboring Plainfield Elementary School, which had undertaken a three-year energy conservation project. With that fact in mind, town and school officials in Cornish began exploring ways to create energy savings, eventually joining forces in 2016 with New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC), an NHSaves partner, to initially replace outdoor lighting with LED lights. A second project in 2019 replaced indoor T8 fluorescent lighting with LEDs.

Lighting the Way

For this 2016 project, NHEC, through rebates and its SmartSTART (Savings Through Affordable Retrofit Technologies) program, was able to remove the upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements for lighting. The first project to install LED lighting cost $6,650 to implement before NHSaves rebates of $3,325, resulting in an annual savings of $1,150 and return on investment by the end of 2019. For the more recent $60,925 project for indoor lighting, NHEC’s SmartSTART program provided a 6.5-year loan that is being repaid entirely through energy savings. The program removes the upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements and allows the loan to be paid off by the energy cost savings of the installed measures. In some cases, it also provides positive cash flow during the payback period.

“The timing of the project was right, matching the start of the school’s ‘Go Green’ initiative. With energy conservation on the minds of town and school officials alike, we started exploring every avenue where we could create energy savings,” said Beth Bierwirth, business manager of the joint partnership that oversees operations at Cornish Elementary School and Plainfield Elementary School. “The project numbers speak for themselves. It really made it easy to sell to our board.”

2018 Project Highlights

Cost of ProjectsNHSaves RebatesAnnual Energy-Efficiency SavingsROI
$60,925$30,000$7,3204.44 years

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