Written on . Posted in District News


2015-05 Act 32 Project Breakdown

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:

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.

Safety and Miscellaneous:

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!