The Efficiency Network, a subsidiary of Duquesne Light Holdings, and the public schools it has worked with share two goals.

First, they want to make schools safe for students by ensuring they will have clean air, fresh air and clean water.  Second, they want the schools’ energy systems to work more efficiently and as a result save districts needed money.

Troy Geanopulos, TEN CEO, said the way to think about it is “do good by doing good,” with the administrators’ highest priority being students’ well-being. So far TEN has worked with between 15 and 20 K-12 schools, he said. With grants and incentives offered by state and federal governments, especially the Inflation Reduction Act, and available rebates, these projects have become a reality for districts.

TEN just completed a series of projects for the Aliquippa School District in Beaver County that will provide a more sustainable learning environment for its students and staff, according to a news release. The district, which serves nearly 940 students in grades pre-K through 12, underwent several energy-efficiency enhancements at its elementary and high schools, including Low-E energy-efficient windows, masonry repairs, refurbishment of the HVAC systems, and LED lighting upgrades.

These improvements will result in annual savings of nearly 164,000 kilowatt-hours and total cost savings of approximately $24,000, the release stated. In addition, the upgrades will also reduce the district’s carbon footprint by 116 metric tons, equivalent to growing more than 1,900 tree seedlings for 10 years.

In 2022, TEN completed a similar project at Allegheny Traditional Academy on Pittsburgh’s North Side. It just signed a contract with Sto-Rox, and its work with the Somerset Area School District will be completed by August 2024.

The subsidiary has been in business since February 2012, and its customers include the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, hospitals, prisons, federal government agencies, colleges and universities, and commercial businesses. It is based in Western Pennsylvania but works throughout the state and beyond its borders.

“We do really, really large projects,” Geanopulos said. “I believe we are the only locally owned company that does this kind of work. We have a very experienced team. Our company is comprised of engineers, people who manage construction.”

Even though TEN is a subsidiary of Duquesne Light Holdings, he said it can and has worked on projects that include rebates for clients with many different utility companies.

What its employees also can do is help its clients with financing. A major source is that Inflation Reduction Act, which has many incentives, but school districts may not be familiar with it or believe they can access its funding.

“It costs money to do these modifications and save energy,” Geanopulos said. In addition to government grants, “There’re many funding structures where third-party capital can be brought to the customer with technical systems. Accelerating projects with innovative financing solutions is an expertise we have that we are very proud of.  You can do projects sooner than you realize. It can be significantly sooner.”

Geanopulos called the Inflation Reduction Act a “huge opportunity,” and TEN’s CEO believes it will be available and impactful to clients, especially school districts, for about 10 years.

Several local school districts found TEN after seeking proposals for energy-efficiency projects from companies through the state’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Act. Under the legislation, companies agree to work that will be funded by money from the energy savings of the project over a certain time period. If the district doesn’t get the energy savings that were promised, the company must pay the difference.

At Allegheny K-5 in Allegheny Center, TEN updated the school’s HVAC equipment, replaced faucets and toilets for water savings, and provided new retrofitted LED lighting fixtures, according to Michael McNamara, chief operations officer for Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“Allegheny was historically one of our hottest buildings in the district, so we were looking at ways to get air conditioning into the building,” McNamara said. “Being that it’s such an old building, HVAC renovations and upgrades are very complicated. When we can do a project with a company like TEN, where they’re managing the complexities of this project, it makes it a lot smoother to do that type of a project.”

The renovations were projected to create a 31% reduction in the school’s annual kilowatt-per-hour usage, an annual savings of $74,000, according to district spokesperson Ebony Pugh. She added that the project was expected to reduce the carbon footprint of the building by 134 metric tons — the equivalent of planting more than 2,000 trees.

The project also included an educational component, said Stephen Connell, the district’s director of facilities.

A couple of kiosks were added to the school where students can learn about and tinker with certain mechanical controls so they can see how it impacts energy usage in the building, Connell said. Parts of the mechanical system were also labeled so that students could glean information from it.

TEN is now starting a project at a second city school, Westwood PreK-5. The work includes an all-new HVAC system, upgraded ceilings and lighting, and water fixtures.

Westwood was selected “mostly due to the age and condition of the existing mechanical equipment,” Connell said. “We knew that it needed a lot of work, so there was the opportunity to get that work completed and incorporate air conditioning.”

In Aliquippa, upgrades were made to the elementary and junior-senior high schools’ interior and exterior LED lighting, indoor and rooftop geothermal heat pump units and filter systems, and windows. Some masonry work was done to help with water issues.

According to TEN, the improvements will result in annual savings of nearly 164,000 kilowatt-hours and total cost savings of approximately $24,000. In addition, the upgrades will also reduce the district’s carbon footprint by 116 metric tons, the equivalent of growing more than 1,900 trees for 10 years.

Patrick Collins, supervisor of buildings and grounds for the Aliquippa School District, praised TEN for the work it did despite some challenges from outside factors, such as supply chain delays. 

“You put a shed in your backyard, there’s speed bumps that are going to come along,” Collins said. “I’m a realist. This was a project of much higher magnitude. I knew there were going to be speed bumps, things that were unforeseen, and sure enough some of them came up. But they were on top of things, on site, addressing whatever the problem may have been right away.”

Geanopulos called the supply chain issue a challenge, one TEN works to overcome. “We have a lot of relationships with manufacturers. We try to get our orders in as soon as possible. We try to use our relationships with manufacturers. No doubt, it was a problem and still is a problem. We hope it opens up soon.”

TEN works with school districts around their schools’ schedules, and it will do its work often during off-instruction hours.

A final benefit of its work, Geanopulos said, is these projects create jobs, including for union workers.

“We work with the local trades,” he said. “We have the benefit in Western Pennsylvania as having skilled trades. We are not a union contractor, but we work with them.  They are critical components.”

Solar work is becoming much more popular in its projects, and that will continue, Geanopulos predicted. Right now TEN is working with school districts, one at the Greater Johnstown Career and Technical Center, on projects with solar components.

“We expect more with the Inflation Reduction Act and the increase in electricity costs,” he said. “We’re starting to have discussions about solar with many of our customers, including public schools, when they weren’t years ago.”

Geanopulos said the delay on solar here is partially because “Pittsburgh is a type of town where we like to consider our decisions.”

Nothing wrong with that, he said.  “We’re pretty deliberate,” he said, “and watch what is going on around the country.”

And like the other energy-efficiency projects TEN goes after, the financial incentives help.  Here again, he said, the Inflation Reduction Act, rebates and grants for solar work make the economics much more attractive for clients, including school districts.

Helen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Contact her at

Andrew writes about education and more for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at