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Four eastern Washington schools to get federal energy money

Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

An eastern Washington school district is one of 25 districts nationwide to win a federal prize aimed at helping schools more efficiently use energy.

The Department of Energy will give Educational Service District 101 $100,000 to develop plans for lowering energy costs and improving air quality. ESD 101 is based in Spokane, but serves 59 districts in seven northeast Washington counties.

“It’s often very difficult for them to carve out time and budgets to even get started on energy management and health and safety improvements," said Sarah Zaleski, the Department of Energy's program manager for schools and non-profits.

"That’s where our team is hoping to help out with both grants for doing energy and health improvement upgrades and also this Energy Class Prize to really build capacity around staff to help identify and implement these energy and air quality improvements," she said.

The Energy Class Prize to which Zaleski refers allows school staff members to receive up to 160 hours of one-on-one training with experts to learn how to make energy improvements at their schools.

ESD 101 will split the money between four of its member schools: Columbia School in Hunters, Colville Junior High, Inchelium Middle School and Trent Elementary in Spokane Valley, said Jerry Page, the district's industrial hygienist.

“One of the districts will be adding this to an initiative to replace and update their boilers, which they’re currently in right now. We have, if you will, the old, big metal structures from the 1940s in the school and they’re literally bulging, One of them is out of commission.”

Other schools will replace windows or create IT solutions that allow districts to remotely control the climatic conditions in their buildings.

Page says the Department of Energy-school district consultations are scheduled to begin in the fall. Federal inspectors will return in a year to review the work, after which the districts could win another chunk of money to continue their projects.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.