Spokane Journal of Business

McKinstry updates Hunters school mechanical systems

Grant-funded upgrades will reduce operational costs for rural district

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The Spokane office of Seattle-based energy-efficiency contractor McKinstry Co. recently completed a $568,000 project that the company says is expected to help the Columbia School District save $30,000 annually in electricity and heating fuel costs at today's prices.

The project for the school district, located in Hunters, Wash., about 65 miles northwest of Spokane, was funded largely through a $510,000 grant awarded through the state's Jobs Now Act, says Stephanie Pitts, a Seattle-based spokeswoman for McKinstry. Altogether, the state allocated $78 million in 2012 through competitive grants to fund energy and operational cost savings improvements in public buildings, Pitts says.

"We identify projects that need to get done, and we are aware of these dollars and make it a priority to help our clients secure grant money," she says.

The district also secured a $100,000 grant to remove asbestos-related materials and install a new floor, she says. The Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction administered both grants.

The mechanical system improvements at the district's main facility included replacing outdated ventilation equipment with more energy-efficient units, and updating ventilation and boiler controls with Web-based control systems.

The upgrades will result in annual savings of nearly 9,000 kilowatts of electricity and more than 8,700 gallons of heating oil valued at a combined total of $29,700, McKinstry claims.

The project also improves indoor-air quality, which will increase staff and student productivity and reduce sick days, the company asserts.

The district's main Columbia School building serves 218 students preschool through high school grades and has a staff of 37.

"We've been able to help a number of school districts in small rural communities get grant money," Pitts says.

McKinstry has helped clients secure $51 million in state grant funding toward projects totaling more than $125 million since the Legislature enacted the Jobs Now program in 2009. The company estimates that at least 10 jobs have been created for every $1 million spent on such projects.

McKinstry employs up to 250 people throughout the Inland Northwest, including 85 people at the McKinstry Innovation Center, in the historic Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad Co. building, at 850 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., Pitts says.

The company has operations in 15 states and employs a total of more than 1,900. McKinstry's services include consulting, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining energy-efficiency systems for buildings, she says.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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