By Paul Gable
The Horry County Schools Board of Education voted last night to award construction of five new schools to First Floor Energy Positive.
Included in the motion to award contracts for all five schools in this round of building projects to First Floor Energy Positive, was the raising of the budget for construction from approximately $167 million to approximately $225 million.
Proposals from all three finalist construction teams exceeded the initial budget by a considerable margin, according to sources familiar with the process.
The vote effectively ends a selection process that began in early 2014. The school district will now file a Notice of Intent to award contracts and there will be a 14 day protest period in which one of the other two finalist construction teams may challenge the award if they so desire.
A protest is expected and sources within the school district say there has already been Freedom of Information Act requests for large numbers of documents associated with the selection process.
Be that as it may, the Horry County Schools Board of Education made the correct choice.
First Floor Energy Positive has constructed three state of the art schools in North Carolina, all of which generate more energy than they consume. Excess energy is sold back to the local power grid.
It is estimated that the First Floor Energy Positive construction model will save Horry County Schools approximately $100 million in energy costs over the 40 year lifespan of the five schools. Such savings reduce the net cost of construction to well below the original budget even with construction inflation that is now occurring.
Delivery date of the schools is scheduled for May 1, 2017 so they can be fully furnished and open for students when the school year begins in August 2017.