Halstead-Bentley schools have embarked on a project to go green this fall.
Last month, the Halstead-Bentley USD 440 board of education approved a $1.3 million energy savings contract with Trane to complete energy efficient upgrades to the district’s three schools.
The aging water, lighting and HVAC systems will be improved at the schools.
Construction on the project will begin Aug. 15. The work will be done after school and on weekends as to not disrupt the learning environment, said Cory Gibson, Halstead superintendent.
The initial project to improve lighting, water and HVAC will take weeks to complete.
However, a computer system is being installed to control the climate throughout the three Halstead Bentley buildings, and this could take four to five months to complete, Gibson said.
All the thermostats in the schools now have to be set manually. If the schools would have a cancellation, such as a snow day, someone would have to turn down all the thermostats manually.
“This could take three or four hours,” Gibson said.
The computerized system will allow administrators to turn down all the thermostats in the three schools to nonoccupied temperatures at one central location.
Low-flow water fixtures also will be installed in the restrooms of all three schools.
The project is funded with a performance contract supported by the Kansas Statutory fiscal tool K.S.A. 75-37, 125 and the Facility Conservation Improvement Program. A performance contract is a model that allows building owners to use future energy and operational savings to finance infrastructure improvement projects.
The schools were dealing with antiquated infrastructure systems and seeing increases in heating, cooling, electric and water costs.
Prior to selecting appropriate energy conservation measures for the district, administrators relied on Trane to conduct a formal energy audit and building assessment.
“During these difficult financial times for schools in the state of Kansas, it is critical that we look at every way possible to save money over the next several years, while increasing comfort and reliability in our systems immediately,” Gibson said.
“Many of our systems are nearing the end of their life expectancy,” he said, “and this program allows us an opportunity to replace the aging systems in a fiscally responsible way, with the added benefit of saving taxpayer money on ongoing energy and repairs.”
With the new, energy-efficient upgrades, the district is expected to save more than $44,000 annually.
These savings are achieved through a $22,000 annual reduction in utility expenses — roughly 10 percent of the district’s energy budget and more than $22,000 in operations and maintenance savings.
The changes will provide a more comfortable learning environment for students and show students the school district practices what it preaches, Gibson said.
“Not only is this advantageous financially, but it is also the right thing morally to do as we attempt to decrease the carbon footprint our district is leaving behind for future generations,” he said.