School Facilities - Energy Efficiency Grant FAQ
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School Facilities

Energy Efficiency Grant Frequently Asked Questions


What changes are there in the 2010 energy grant program from the 2009 program?
In 2010, K-12 school districts have the option to apply for either or both OSPI and Department of Commerce grants. Only one state grant per project may be awarded. OSPI applications are for projects using the energy performance contracting method, which involves using an Energy Services Company (ESCO). The Commerce program is also for projects using an ESCO, but also allows for a non-ESCO process.

Where can I find out about the energy performance contracting method, and what an ESCO is?
One source of information is the Department of General Administration’s (GA’s) “Energy Saving Performance Contracting” program and webpage. The site includes general information about energy performance contracting (and links to other sources), and information about GA’s program. h

What are the steps involved in energy performance contracting?
The first step of the energy performance contracting method is to identify cost-effectiveness criteria: what are the conditions under which the district will proceed with a project (can include payback, energy savings, financing, etc). A walk-though or “preliminary audit” is conducted. If it looks like there may be projects that meet the cost-effectiveness criteria, an “Investment Grade Audit” (IGA) is conducted.

The investment-grade energy audit is conducted by the selected ESCO to analyze all cost-effective energy efficiency measures (EEMs) for systems such as lighting, HVAC equipment, building envelope, steam, water using systems, building controls, energy generation and distribution. The audit includes an evaluation of the economic performance and investment value of the EEMs.

A level of detail found in the IGA is necessary in order to complete the application. OSPI is offering grants for Investment Grade Audits. The application deadline for the Investment Grade Audit grants is July 16, 2010.

If our district received an OSPI energy or wavier grant in 2009, can we apply again this year?
Yes, you may apply this year for a new project.

What is the grant request limit?
There is no upper limit; however it is expected that the OSPI request will not exceed $1 million. Higher grant request will be considered if appropriate.

Can a school district receive funding from both OSPI and Commerce for the same project?
No. A project may only receive grant funding from one grant funder or the other. However, a school district may receive one grant from OSPI for Project A and a second grant from Commerce for Project B. Projects A and B must be distinctly different projects.

How is a “project” defined?
If an applicant is going to do multiple components (lighting, windows, insulation, HVAC) in a building at the same time with the same contract, it’s considered one project. If the components are going to be done over time with different contracts, they are considered separate projects. If an applicant wants to do only specific things such as lighting or controls in several buildings at the same time and have one contract to perform the work, that is consider one project

If we already started an energy project, can we apply for a grant?
If the project has an energy performance construction contract executed before June 1, 2010, the project is not eligible. Projects with construction contracts on or after June 1, 2010 are eligible.

When is the application deadline?
There is an application deadline every month between June and November, alternating between OSPI and Commerce (COM).

The deadlines are:
June 25 (OSPI); July 26 (COM); August 27 (OSPI); September 20 (COM); October 22 (OSPI), and November 14 (COM).

If funds remain, a March 4, 2011 (OSPI) and a March 11 (COM) round may be held. Having multiple rounds helps meet the legislative intent for these grants to stimulate Washington’s economy through job creation, and give districts multiple opportunities to apply.

Who will review the applications?
For OSPI grants, the same dedicated team from last year which was made up of school district staff from facilities, capital, and administrative programs, along with a representative of a non-profit trade association of the energy efficiency industry. OSPI staff manages the process but do not score the applications.

When will the awardees be notified?
OSPI’s goal is to have the applications scored and awardees notified about one week after the application deadline. Follow-up materials may be requested from the applicant prior to final award. For instance, if the applicant indicated that the Investment Grade Audit and/or the Energy Services Proposal were already completed, they will be requested to submit those to OSPI.

How can we be assured that there will be funds in subsequent rounds?
OSPI plans on having three grant rounds, with a possible fourth. To ensure funding is available in subsequent rounds, OSPI may award only up to 85% of the applicants in the first two rounds.

What is the difference between the OSPI and Commerce grant programs?

  OSPI Program Commerce Program
ELIGIBILITY Public K-12 only - Public K-12
- Public Higher Education
- 5% set aside districts w/1000 or less FTE
APPLICATION PROCESS iGrants Web-based app
AWARD LIMIT Suggest $1 M; no limit Suggest $5 M; no limit
REQUIREMENTS Performance based contracting (ESCO) Performance based contracting (ESCO)
Self-performing alternative (Non-ESCO)
USE OF GA Program Optional Required for Community Colleges
Optional for others
TYPES OF GRANTS Investment Grade Audit Grant and
Project Grant.
Each grant has a separate application.
Investment Grade Audit and
Project Grant.
Both grants use the same application.
   IGA July 16, 2010 Same as project dates
   Round 1 June 25, 2010 July 26, 2010
   Round 2 August 27, 2010 September 20, 2010
   Round 3 October 22, 2010 November 15, 2010
   Round 4
   (if needed)
March 4, 2011 March 22, 2011

Do we have to use the energy performance contracting method?
Yes, for the OSPI grant fund program you must use energy performance contracting. There are no waivers.

Do I have to work with GA’s Energy Savings Performance Contracting Program?
No, school districts do not have to work through the Department of General Administration’s (GA) program. It is an option for school districts to use their services. Many districts that have not done performance contracting before use GA. Community Colleges are required to use the GA program; it is optional for all others.

What if the district wants to contract directly with an Energy Services Company (ESCO)?
A district may contract directly with and ESCO by issuing an RFQ and selecting an ESCO. Please see the guidelines below or Chapter 39.35C RCW.

What if a district does not want to use an ESCO at all?
OSPI’s grant program requires the use of an ESCO. If a district doesn’t want to use an ESCO, they cannot apply for the OSPI program. The district may apply to the Commerce program in the “self-managed” non-ESCO process. (As of June 30, 2010, GA guidelines for Energy Saving Performance Contracting will be available at The law for Energy Savings Performance Contracting is found in Chapter 39.35C RCW. The RCWs for project that do not use energy savings performance contracting are found in Chapters 39.80 and 39.04.)

What is leverage and what does the 3:1 leverage goal mean?
A program goal is that for every one dollar of state grant funds, the district contributes three “non-state” dollars. It does not mean that the application must include that leverage ratio, but applicants will be scored for prioritization on the leverage ratio, with the higher the leverage the better the score.

What is meant by “non-state funds”?
Non-state funds include any funding from local sources, private sources, debt financing (local or state), federal funds, and utility incentives.

Does the OSPI grant require innovative measures for energy efficiency to be considered? What does that include?
The OSPI grant does not require the use of innovative measures and this will not be a factor in prioritizing projects, even though the question is asked on the OSPI application. Depending on level of competition, OSPI may consider innovation as a “bonus point”.

Innovations may be equipment, techniques or practices that are “imported” from other building types where they are more common and have a demonstrated track record of savings and longevity, but haven’t typically been used in schools. Innovation sometimes captures more energy savings, but at a lower cost per unit or provides other tangible or intangible benefits when compared to conventional energy efficiency measures.

The energy savings chart on the application does not have a line for steam. Where should an applicant provide that information?
Use the “Gas” field and have the ESCO convert the Steam savings to mmBTUs saved. Then make a note in the field so reviewers can see the change. If there is both gas and steam, put the information on steam in the project description narrative.

Are there requirements concerning the disturbance of surfaces that may contain lead-based paint?
Yes. If the project involves disturbance of painted surfaces in a building constructed prior to 1979 and serves children under six years old, a certified person must direct the activity to minimize potential exposure.

What is benchmarking and why does the application ask about Energy Benchmarking? Is that part of the priority scoring?
Benchmarking your facilities is often the first step in measuring and monitoring the building’s utility use, and is an excellent tool to spot problems and track improvements. Depending on the level of competition in the applications, the reviews have the option of considering this as a bonus point.


Energy Operational Improvement Grants

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