District discusses options to upgrade school heating systems in ‘dire need’
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School Board met at a special meeting on Saturday, Oct. 29 to discuss options to update the aging infrastructure at district buildings.
North Sanpete School District (NSSD) leaders discovered Siemens Energy, an internationally-based company that helps Utah government facilities improve efficiency and upgrade outdated systems, at a conference held earlier this year.
Siemens engineers were asked to perform a consultation. They crawled through attics and basements of all district buildings to fully assess the needs and found three main concerns: heating and ventilation, the systems that control them and lighting matters.
Siemens representatives attended the special meeting to report their findings and what they found was nothing short of daunting.
The Siemens consultants reported to the board that Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in several locations are in dire need of replacement.
Fairview Elementary, North Sanpete Middle School (NSMS) and North Sanpete High School (NSHS) were built in the 1980’s and had never had HVAC system updates since their construction.
The failing HVAC systems have created a less than optimal environment for anyone inside the buildings.
According to Todd Hansen, NSSD maintenance director, the thermostats have malfunctioned and are running on default mode, leaving classrooms either too hot or too cold.
Other concerns are the boilers at NSHS, NSMS and Spring City Elementary. The consultants reported that the original equipment burned coal and had been converted to natural gas sometime in the 1990’s.
Engineers say the boilers outlived their life cycle and had been rebuilt, but could fail soon if not replaced with new units.
Air handling units in several schools have also reportedly outlived their life cycle.
Siemens engineers said they found corrosion on the outside and inside of pipes that run to Air Handling Units that are housed inside classroom closets and ceilings. They said this creates the potential for water to leak into classrooms, leaving the classrooms unusable until repaired.
But getting the parts to repair the infrastructure creates another challenge for the board and maintenance crew. Manufacturers are no longer producing the outdated systems and the parts to fix them. This dilemma has left Hansen to scavenge for old parts.
After the South Sanpete School District upgraded their buildings, they donated parts to NSSD to help rebuild dying equipment.
Even so, scavenging for parts will only help the systems function but will do nothing to help them run efficiently because of their age.
Furthermore, the lighting in buildings is not energy efficient because they are still running on outdated fluorescent lights.
Siemens representatives discussed retrofitting the buildings with energy efficient LED lighting because the current lighting kits are so old that they also are no longer made.
As a result, Hansen began LED upgrades to the schools, which are supposed to last at least two years. Hansen says lighting upgrades are also needed in Moroni, Fountain Green and Spring City elementary schools.
Seimens reps suggested that the board install a more modern and efficient direct digital control systems which are used in most new buildings.
These modern systems include computerized controls that can be monitored and adjusted via smart technology as needed.
Siemens has engineered replacement systems for district buildings, obtained bids from local contractors and calculated the time it would take for the repairs to pay for themselves through increased efficiency.
A financial representative from Siemens detailed financing options available for these types of upgrade projects.
Fixed and low-interest loan types were considered, including Rocky Mountain Power incentives for updating the systems.
The board said they would require a more detailed study and additional financing options before they move forward.