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NEWTOWN >> The Council Rock School District has been awarded a grant of $1,641,916 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Alternative and Clean Energy High Performance Building program to construct and renovate portions of Hillcrest and Richboro Elementary schools to make them more energy efficient.

“This grant will help Council Rock School District create cutting-edge, environmentally smart schools that will stand as an example to others of how our schools can be energy efficient, which will benefit our environment and save our school districts money long-term,” said State Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-178). “This is how to best invest in our future.”

Thomas had previously served as school board director for Council Rock School District between 2008-2018 before being elected to the PA House of Representatives.

“Due to the gaps in the budget caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our schools will have to rely on funding at last year’s budget levels to provide the same high-quality education,” said State Rep. Perry Warren (D-31), “The grant money will enable renovation and construction projects that will help the schools save more than 20 percent in energy consumption and 30% in water consumption. The reduction in the two schools’ energy costs will lead to a decrease in district spending as a whole during this critical period.”

The Council Rock School District will use the funds to renovate 59,860 square feet and construct 3,650 square feet of additions to Hillcrest and Richboro Elementary Schools, achieving USGBC LEED Gold certification. The planned energy saving features include geothermal heating and cooling, energy-efficient lighting, automated energy control systems, low-flow water fixtures, occupancy-based temperature and lighting, an 85 kW solar PV array, and an improved thermal envelope.

In both schools, the solar array will generate an additional 110,000 kWh and the low-flow water fixtures will reduce water consumption by 30% annually.

In Hillcrest Elementary School, the changes will reduce energy consumption by an estimated 1,251 MMBtu, a savings of 24% annually.

In Richboro Elementary School, the changes will reduce energy consumption by an estimated 1,003 MMBtu, a savings of 20% annually.

The schools each will provide matching funds.

The Alternate Energy Investment Act was signed into law in July 2008 and provides for grants and loans for clean and alternative energy projects including buildings, equipment and land development activities; grants and loans to individuals and small businesses for high-performance, energy-efficient building projects; grants and loans for geothermal and wind energy projects; and grants and loans for alternative energy production projects involving solar technologies.

A Commonwealth Financing Authority program, the High Performance Building Program provides financial assistance in the forms of grants and loan funds to underwrite the cost premiums associated with the design and construction or major renovation of high performance buildings in the state. The program is managed within the DCED Office of Business Financing.

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