August 18th, 2016:
Through the efforts of two of the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE) programs, a local charter school will save enough money on their energy and water bills to pay for $1.6 million in improvements to their facilities. Today, the DC Property Assessed Clean Energy (DC PACE) financing program and the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) jointly announced the launch of a major renovation project for the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in the Brookland neighborhood. The project is being financed by DC PACE, an innovative financing program, administered by DOEE, that allows local commercial building owners to fund building upgrades from future utility savings. This marks the fourth DC PACE deal inked under Mayor Bowser’s Administration, representing nearly $2.75 million total in clean energy and water investments, with other major PACE deals in the pipeline.
This green building project, developed by the local energy services provider ThinkBox Group, will result in capital improvements and infrastructure upgrades to mechanical equipment, energy and water conservation measures, and the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftop of the school. The project also received $198,000 in efficiency incentives from the DCSEU.
“Several years ago our Board of Trustees decided that the time had come to begin much-needed facility upgrades,” said Erika Bryant, Executive Director of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Charter School. “Thanks to ThinkBox, Urban Ingenuity, and the DC PACE program, the Stokes School has begun to make these improvements and the whole school community is thrilled about being in a more comfortable learning environment. Another benefit of this work is the opportunity it will afford students to gain first-hand knowledge about energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Our students will learn yet another way to demonstrate Stokes’ three school rules: ‘To take care of ourselves, others, and our community.’”
The Elsie Whitlow Stokes Charter School serves 350 pre-school and elementary students in the District through an innovative dual language immersion program. These building upgrades will result in major improvements to their facilities, while also reducing the facilities’ operating expenses, which will enable more resources to be directed towards the school’s educational mission.
“DC PACE is thrilled to support this upgrade to a local public charter school,” said Bracken Hendricks, CEO of Urban Ingenuity, DC PACE program administrator. “PACE is a powerful tool for charter schools and other community nonprofits with limited operating budgets. Every dollar we can save them on utility bills flows right back into upgrading the facility and reducing their costs in the future.”
“This DCSEU incentive will help to offset the expense of hiring local community based businesses,” said DCSEU managing director Ted Trabue, “these resources flow directly to District-based contractors, particularly those serving low-income communities, and improve the local building stock while bringing new investment back into our communities.”
The DCSEU incentive is supporting the work of contractors WL Gary and Greenscape Environmental Services, both Certified Business Enterprise firms in the District of Columbia. Maryland-based firm SunTrail is installing the rooftop solar panels. Capital for PACE financing was provided by Greenworks Lending, LLC, a Connecticut-based investor in PACE projects.
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