Georgia State and Local Governments Receive Expanded Authority for Conservation Projects

In the 2020-2021 session, the Georgia General Assembly amended existing laws to expand state and local governments’ authority to enter conservation projects.  In connection with these projects, the contractor guarantees that cost savings or revenue increases will cover any payments for the project.

Read more about conservation projects, including Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracts

With regard to school systems, conservation projects had previously included facility alterations designed to reduce energy or water consumption or operation costs.  But the new law expands the permitted projects to include equipment purchases used in new construction or building retrofit, addition, or renovation.  It also adds training programs incidental to the contract.

In addition, school systems had been allowed to enter projects for the following:

  • (A) Insulating the building structure or structures within the building, including caulking or weather-stripping;
  • (B) Installing storm windows or doors, multiglazed windows or doors, heat absorbing or heat reflective glazed and coated window or door systems, or other window or door systems designed to reduce energy consumption;
  • (C) Installing automated or computerized energy control systems;
  • (D) Modifying or replacing heating, ventilating, or air-conditioning systems;
  • (E) Replacing or modifying lighting fixtures to increase the energy efficiency of the lighting system;
  • (F) Improving indoor air quality to conform to the applicable state or local building code requirements;
  • (G) Installing energy recovery systems;
  • (H) Installing cogeneration systems that produce steam or forms of energy such as heat and electricity for use primarily within a building or complex of buildings; and
  • (I) Life safety measures that provide long-term operating cost reductions and are in compliance with state and local codes, and building operation programs that reduce operating costs.

The new law provides a final, broad catch-all that includes any other measure designed to reduce energy or water consumption, reduce wastewater production, avoid capital costs, or achieve similar efficiency gains.

Moreover, school systems may use proceeds from local option sales taxes collected for educational purchases for conservation projects, subject to the terms of the referendum.  Finally, the new law clarifies that the conservation project may be executed in phases.

Read more about local government construction and procurement issues.

The new law also amended the existing statute governing conservation projects for state and local governments, generally.  The new law expanded the permissible projects to include those that allow revenue generating measures.  It also struck the reference to school districts from the definition of “governmental unit.”

Read more about public works projects.