Jersey City Public Schools, DCO Energy commemorate start of work on $122M project

Jersey City Public Schools and DCO Energy, along with Jersey City students and faculty, recently joined together at James J. Ferris High School to celebrate the start of work on the state’s largest Energy Saving Improvement Program project — approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to help assist and develop a renewable future for Jersey City Public Schools.

The $122 million community-enhancing project will deliver new LED lighting, upgraded building automation systems, cutting-edge solar energy technologies, renovated heating and cooling systems, water conservation and infrastructure improvements, helping the district save money, reduce its carbon footprint and improve the school environment for students, staff and teachers.

“The ESIP will allow Jersey City Public Schools to not only reduce energy consumption, but also enhance the overall sustainability of our facilities. By conserving energy, the school district can significantly reduce utility costs, thereby generating savings that can be reinvested in improving facilities and infrastructure,” Norma Fernandez, superintendent, Jersey City Public Schools, said. “As a result, the Jersey City board of education will create a more sustainable environment for students and staff, while also setting an example for the community on the importance of conservation and resource efficiency.”

Once completed, the ESIP project is expected to save the district $88 million over the next 20 years.

“It’s truly exciting to see Jersey City Public Schools moving toward a sustainable, greener future for students and staff,” Dennis Frohnapfel, acting school business administrator, Jersey City Public School District, said. “By partnering with DCO Energy on this ESIP, we are able to modernize the district’s facilities while utilizing energy cost-saving measures to fund capital improvements the district would otherwise find difficult to fund, all to the benefit of our students.”

As part of the commemoration ceremony, the school district was presented with a proclamation from Jersey City recognizing June 12 as Sustainability Day in the city. Additionally, a Scope of Work virtual tour video was unveiled, featuring students from across the district describing the upgrades and improvements at their schools.

“Jersey City has become a leader in sustainability and innovation, and it is encouraging to have our school district aligned with these important goals of creating a healthier, more resilient future for our students, their families and all residents citywide,” said Barkha Patel, director, Department of Infrastructure, Jersey City. “We have seen the benefits of implementing an Energy Savings Improvement Plan firsthand on the city level, and to have the schools as partners in our collective fight against climate change is key for the many Jersey City generations to come.”

Previously, the Jersey City Public School District, which has a total of 45 schools representing 5.5 million square feet, was spending more than $7 million on utility costs annually. With the upgrades, 31 schools will have renewable solar generation of almost 11 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. All the new solar energy created in the school district will help improve the district’s overall energy portfolio. With this technological advancement, the district will generate 42% of its power on-site via solar.

While completing the necessary upgrades and improvements identified in the ESIP, DCO Energy also will be incorporating aspects of JINGOLI Competitive Edge, a unique suite of customized educational programs created to introduce students to career opportunities and identify, train and find meaningful employment for high school students and adults who live within the cities and towns where JINGOLI and its affiliates perform work.

Initiatives implemented in Jersey City will include Live Classroom instruction and Women in Engineering and will focus on introducing students of all ages to careers in the engineering, energy solutions and renewable energy industries through hands-on STEM and STEAM learning experiences. Additionally, through Train to Hire, DCO Energy has recruited three individuals from Jersey City to work on the project while simultaneously receiving computer-based career training.

“Our philosophy focuses on leaving a lasting impact on the communities where we work by not only improving the physical condition of the buildings, but also by involving the students, families and residents who use these facilities,” Joseph Jingoli Jr., chief business development officer, DCO Energy, and CEO, JINGOLI, said. “This critical project will result in sustainable learning environments, reduced energy output from the district and, hopefully, spark an interest in students to consider career paths in engineering, renewable energy and other related industries.”

To fund the ESIP, the district is receiving an additional $64 million in federal grant funding and capital reserve to help assist the development of new sustainable improvements. This funding was allocated through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.