A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Representative Hans Dunshee’s proposal to borrow $3 billion to retrofit schools.  Part of what made the proposal interesting was that the $3 billion would be paid back, at least in part, with savings in energy costs. (Dunshee’s legislation has moved into the rules committee, but it is still unclear exactly how the energy savings would be captured.)

There have been some school districts in Washington that have already realized some savings using this kind of financing (like the Battle Ground School district mentioned in this article).  And it looks like the potential savings here are significant.  This study sponsored in part by the United States Green Building Council highlights the cost savings from buildings schools to LEED standards and retrofitting existing schools.  They peg the savings over time at $9 per square foot over twenty years—not bad, especially if the up front costs are modest.

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  • The Green Building Council also concludes that a wastewater retrofit for a public school could save $1 per square foot over a 20 year period.  And that doesn’t include the money that local utilities would save from not having to treat as much surface water that ends up flowing into sewers.  One community counted up to $400,000 in savings from not having to build a new detention facility to accommodate runoff.

    So while the energy savings from building green and retrofits are the big selling point to Dunshee’s bill, legislators should be sure to factor in other savings—including on water infrastructure—that might accrue from green retrofits to Washington schools.

    Read Green Schools, Smart Financing 3.