A few years ago, I helped a hundred year old local high school modernize. Elder High School is a well known Catholic west side boys school with a strong alumni base. The original building was built in 1922 and there were major additions in 1959 and 1963. The school enjoyed a lot of support from their alumni and the community to bring the facilities up to state of the art educational norms, including energy efficient HVAC and LED lighting. The project was completed in three phases, which allowed facilities to be open when they needed to be open, with minimal disruption to programs. All work in educational areas was done over two consectutive summers and school was open as usual in the second week of August. The Field House, shown below, which is the main athletic venue for the school, was shut down after basketball season and remodeled, and opened back up to accommodate summer camps and football practice. Another key to success of the project was teacher engagement–we mocked up classroom lighting before we finalized design and everyone had a vote on whether to go fluorescent or LED, and how the control system would operate. The school replaced a heating only boiler system (no ventilation) with variable refrigerant volume air conditioning and a dedicated outdoor air system. During the design phase, I performed energy modeling and determined that the school would be paying about the same in utility costs after the upgrade project as they were paying before. The upgrade project included adding a variable refrigerant volume heat pump system, replacing a steam boiler with a much smaller condensing hot water boiler system, upgrading to LED lighting and replacing the windows. This ended up being true–total energy costs were slightly lower after the entire project was completed.
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