- First published on 30 April 2015 Posted in District News
By Dan Kopf
In the article two weeks ago, Mrs. Lau told you that the Board of Education has approved a large number of repairs and upgrades to our facilities. This week, I will be giving you more details on the scope of the work. Most of the projects will produce energy reduction of some sort. Nothing works in a vacuum and all of the projects will have multiple components to them. These components are: energy savings, replacement due to age and condition and creating a better physical learning environment.
We all want to save energy as it is good for the environment, but even better, it is good for our District if we can reduce operating expense while maintaining building comfort. First, energy savings is a large focus of Act 32. Second, everything ages and wears out. Eventually things will need to be replaced. Many of the projects have this component in them. These items will also have an energy component and learning environment component in the project. Through preventative maintenance and regular upkeep, the items being replaced are seven to twelve years beyond their 'normal' life-cycle – they are ready for replacement. Third, the primary goal of a school district is to educate our children. Multiple studies have shown that a consistent and comfortable physical environment increases learning. Many of the projects will directly impact the physical environment, along with their other components.
With this general overview, I will go into more detail on a number of the projects.
Lighting: We will be upgrading the lighting in all of the buildings. The major upgrades will be in our Middle and Elementary Schools. The last upgrades in these buildings was in 1993, twenty-two years ago. Lighting technology has changed considerably since then. The retrofit will bring all the rooms to the appropriate lighting levels, thus reducing student eye fatigue. The special education rooms in these buildings will get different lighting and controls to help accommodate the special needs students. The High School already has this special lighting in the special education room. The high school will also see lighting changes with upgraded lamping and some new fixtures. Most of the exterior lighting will be changed to LED fixtures. The lighting retro-fit will provide significant energy savings. These changes will also provide a better physical environment in the classrooms and added safety around the exterior of the buildings.
Pool: The pool will have only minor upgrades, but they can have a large impact. We are going to install a 'VSD' (variable speed drive) on the main circulating pump. This will allow the pump to run at lower speeds when less volume is needed. The energy savings from this will be significant. The other project in the pool will be a "liquid pool cover". This will be a microscopic liquid that will be automatically injected in the pool. When no one is in the pool, this liquid will rise to the surface and form an invisible microscopic barrier. This barrier will slow down water evaporation from the surface. This will reduce the normal water loss from evaporation and the accompanying chemical loss. By reducing the humidity and chemicals in the air, we will also be able reduce our energy use in the HVAC system. Because we will not have as much moisture and chemical to remove from the pool deck area, we can run the HVAC unit motors at a lower level too. The product that will be injected is completely safe and you will not even know that it is in the pool. It was developed in the cosmetic industry and is approved by all the government agencies.
Environmental systems: The items in this category combine energy savings and physical environment comfort. Most of the items being replaced are units that have gone far beyond their normal life cycle. By upgrading these, we will have more reliable and efficient units. The projects include:
- Twelve small boilers serving the original sections of the Middle and Elementary Schools will be replaced with two energy efficient condensing boilers. The boilers being replaced are twenty-six years old and no longer very efficient, especially compared to modern boilers.
- The two chillers serving the original sections of the Middle and Elementary Schools will be replaced with two energy efficient chillers. These also are twenty-six years old and have needed more and more work in recent years. The upgrade will be more economical and reliable.
- The dust control in the High School woodshop will be replaced with a larger, more efficient unit. With the larger class sizes, the existing unit cannot keep up with the amount of dust generated. This creates an uncomfortable physical environment as well as a safety and health hazard. When the dust collection is upgraded, we will be able adjust the HVAC system in the woodshop to a lower level of operation, thus giving us more energy savings.
- The HVAC units in the metal shop and wood shop will have VSD (variable speed drives) put on the units. This will be accompanied by de-stratification fans. Because of the high ceilings, these fans will help keep the temperature the same at the floor and the ceiling. The two projects together will provide energy savings and occupant comfort.
- We will be replacing two BAS (building automation system) controllers in the Elementary School. These units are hubs for the computer data/controls for the heating and AC systems. The controllers are over twenty-five years old and have been discontinued for the past twelve years. We have been using reclaimed parts to this point, but most of the parts are no longer available. New controllers will give us more options in controlling our HVAC units and we should be able to squeeze a little more energy savings from the available programming.
- All of our building HVAC systems will undergo retro-commissioning. This process involves verifying that all existing controls are working and operating as designed. This includes every sensor, thermostat, damper, vav box, command point, etc... There are thousands of these integrated into the HVAC system! Through this process, we will be assured that we are able to achieve the maximum efficiency as the system was designed. This will save energy and increase physical environment comfort.
Building envelope: The upgrades to the exterior of our Middle and Elementary Schools are needed because of the wear due to age. Once these upgrades are complete, these exteriors should only require routine maintenance for the next twenty-plus years. There will be minimal energy savings from most of these projects, but there will be some. The main necessity is to do these replacements before there is "catastrophic" breakdown/failure that requires immediate replacement as well as damage cost due to the breakdown.
- The Middle School roof is twenty-four years old and was designed to last 15-17 years. The number of leaks that need to be repaired has increased greatly over the past five years. The roof that we are replacing the current one with will be designed to last forty years, with a thirty year warranty.
- The Elementary roof was also designed as a 15 -17 year roof and now is twenty years old. It too has seen increased breakdown over the past several years. It too will be designed to last forty years, with a thirty year warranty
- The elementary exterior stucco is forty years old and has worn down thin enough that woodpeckers can poke through the remaining stucco. This will be replaced.
- The Middle School stucco is twenty-four years old and will also have some work done on it.
- Any surface cracks and joint deterioration on the pool pre-cast panels will be repaired at this time too.
- There will be minor exterior repairs at the High School. This would be normal work done every five to ten years including tuck pointing, EIFS repair and joint controls.
- The 1975 windows in the Elementary School will be replaced with more energy efficient units.
Safety and Miscellaneous:
- There will some minor ADA upgrades to meet current codes and to increase the safety of our buildings.
- Some 1975 electrical panels in the Elementary School will be replaced. Parts are no longer available for these panels and they will present a safety hazard when they fail.
- The generator at the High School will be upgraded to include some boilers and a circulating pump so that we can have at least minimum heat in the event of a prolonged power outage. The generator already provides emergency lighting and backup power to the computer head end room.
- A generator will be added to the Middle and Elementary Schools to provide the same coverage as the High School.
- The track will be re-coated and re-striped. Tracks are recommended to be re-coated every five or six years and re-striped every three years. Ours was last coated and striped eight years ago.
- The tennis courts will be re-coated and lined. The original surface is still on the courts from twelve years ago. The recommendation for re-surfacing these tennis courts is five to seven years.
I think that I covered just about everything... and it was probably more than you wanted to know! As you can see, the scope of the projects is quite varied and extensive. We will be realizing substantial energy savings while creating a more comfortable and consistent physical learning environment. We also will be upgrading and replacing items that have gone well beyond their normal life expectancy. These replacements will all be designed to last twenty-plus years with only regular maintenance. There will always be more items as the "new" High School and additions age, but we are in a good position that any major items for those buildings are a long way off.
A very busy summer awaits!