County schools’ energy program progressing

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Posted 1/3/17

While students have been out of school for the holidays, workers have been busy making improvements to several Bradley County Schools.

They began checking items off a lengthy list of energy …

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County schools’ energy program progressing

Posted

While students have been out of school for the holidays, workers have been busy making improvements to several Bradley County Schools.

They began checking items off a lengthy list of energy upgrades in the county schools following a kickoff event this past September. The first long break since then gave them the chance to make more changes without disrupting classes.

“The energy program is progressing,” said Dr. Linda Cash, director of Bradley County Schools. “We’re happy with the progress so far.” 

The project, which is set to cost some $16.2 million, involves renovations at every county school and the school system’s central office building.

The renovations being done as part of the project include:

— Replacement of the HVAC system in the cafeteria building at Lake Forest Middle School;

— Multiple rooftop HVAC unit replacements at each of the following schools: Black Fox Elementary, Hopewell Elementary, Michigan Avenue Elementary, North Lee Elementary, Prospect Elementary, Taylor Elementary and Valley View Elementary;

— Lighting upgrades at all county schools as well as the school system's central office;

— Occupancy sensor installations to help save energy with the new lighting in all school buildings and the central office;

— Water conservation measures which could include things like replacing sinks or toilets, at the central office and all schools except for Prospect Elementary;

— Utility control upgrades at all schools and the central office;

— Miscellaneous kitchen equipment replacements at Hopewell Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, Ocoee Middle, Prospect Elementary and Waterville Community Elementary;

— Dishwasher replacements at Black Fox Elementary, Charleston Elementary, Hopewell Elementary, Lake Forest Middle, Michigan Avenue Elementary, North Lee Elementary, Prospect Elementary, Taylor Elementary and Valley View Elementary; and

— A major HVAC installation at Prospect Elementary.

So far, workers have completed the installation of an energy management system at each of the schools, said Cash. Workers have also replaced weather stripping around doors and windows at all the buildings.

“They are installing the new heaters and air conditioners at multiple schools and new windows at our schools currently,” Cash said before Christmas break.

Workers planned to install more windows and HVAC equipment over the break, so they would not be in the way of students and teachers.

Other projects which had been planned for completion during the break included the installations of new kitchen equipment and lighting fixtures.

“It is actually going pretty well,” Cash said of the project.

Bradley County Schools students return to their classrooms Thursday. However, the work will continue through the remainder of the school year and during the 2017-18 year.

Cash said the goal is to have all the renovations completed before the summer of 2018.

The project is being managed by company Energy Systems Group, the same company the Bradley County government is working with to improve other county-owned buildings.

The Bradley County Commission voted this past August to let the Bradley County Board of Education to "negotiate and enter into" a lease/purchase agreement with ESG and Bank of America Capital Corporation. The $16.2 million is being financed over a 20-year period.

Though it has a large price tag, the project is expected to reduce the school system’s energy and equipment repair costs. In presentations to the school board, Russ Nelson, business development manager for Energy Systems Group, promised the project would “pay for itself.” 

Johnny Mull, Bradley County Schools energy management supervisor, who is also a county commissioner, said when the project began that it had been a long time coming.

"We've gradually done some things over the years — but nothing this massive," Mull said.

Mull said the project, once completed, is expected to make classrooms “more comfortable” for students and teachers while also saving the school system money. He also noted the new equipment is expected to allow school maintenence staff to not have to spend as much time repairing the equipment.

Not every change is expected to be visually obvious, as some of the work involves changing out equipment students and teachers do not usually see. However, some of the work is already changing the appearance of the buildings.

Cash described how new windows which have been installed in schools have unexpectedly made the buildings look newer than they actually are.

“It’s amazing the difference it makes, not only on the energy conservation side but the appearance of the schools,” said Cash.

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