Lehighton Area School District to Reduce Costs with Higher Efficiency Buildings

LEHIGHTON – The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) met on May 7 to approve two grants for the Lehighton Area School District. The grants will be used to help convert two elementary schools in order to reduce the school district’s energy costs.

The grants come from the CFA’s Alternative and Clean Energy Program, which provides financial assistance to develop and construct alternative and clean energy projects across the state. Lehighton Area’s grant, $750,000 for each project, will be put towards the renovation of the East Penn and Mahoning Elementary Schools into energy efficient buildings.

School District Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver noted the significance of the grant.

“The district and the entire Lehighton community are excited about receiving this grant,” Cleaver said. “This grant is the first of its kind for the Lehighton Area School District. We would like to thank Senator Argall, Senator Yudichak, and Representative Heffley for their continued efforts and support not only for Lehighton School District but the entire Pennsylvania Education System.”

The local delegation applauded the move, stating that it will result in cost-savings over the long run.

“These upgrades will go a long way in helping the district save valuable tax dollars over the coming years,” Senator David G. Argall (R-29) said. “This team effort to secure these funds would not be possible without the hard work of school officials to realize significant cost-savings over the long term by converting older buildings into energy efficient structures.”

“Lehighton Area School District has always set the standard for Pennsylvania districts in innovation, cost saving and energy efficiency – and these two projects are another glowing example,” Senator John Yudichak (D-14) said. “These multi-million dollar renovations will certainly enhance the learning environment for our students; and they will also help the district save money by significantly reducing energy consumption and annual water usage.”

“Through grant programs like this, we are helping to solve the nation’s energy challenges and to ensure its future economic prosperity without asking our hard-working taxpayers to doll out more cash,” said Representative Doyle Heffley (R-122). “Geothermal energy is clean, renewable energy that offsets carbon dioxide emissions of electricity generated from fossil fuels such as diesel fuel and natural gas.”

“Senator Yudichak, Senator Argall and Representative Heffley have stepped up to the plate for us,” Rocky Ahner, President of the Lehighton Area Board of Education said. “With our district entering into renovation projects of our East Penn and Mahoning elementary schools, this will be greatly appreciated by not only the board but also the taxpayers.”

The East Penn Elementary School project will include a new ground-source geothermal HVAC system, installation of energy efficient lighting and building thermal envelope upgrades. The project is anticipated to reduce energy consumption by 1,131,270 kBTU annually. In addition, new low-flow water fixtures will save the district 30 percent of the building’s annual water usage. Once completed, the building will achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Gold certification.

Similarly, the Mahoning Elementary School’s project will also include a new geothermal HVAC system, new lighting and thermal envelope upgrades. These upgrades will lower the school’s energy consumption by 837,474 kBTU each year. The school also plans to install new water fixtures to save on the school district’s annual water usage by 30 percent each year. This project will also achieve the same LEED Gold certification once completed.