An energy services company spokesman told the Brookfield Board of Education on March 18 that the district could save about $64,000 a year by switching out its lighting fixtures with updated technology, and rebuilding its plumbing fixtures to assure that they are working up to their design specifications.
Plug Smart proposed a project that would cost an estimated $709,000 to $817,000, and that the energy savings would be more than enough to pay off the loan that would be required to undertake the project.
The savings also would cover the cost of other projects that would not save money, but would address safety and maintenance issues, including replacing the deteriorating light poles at Nicholas Field, the district’s football stadium on Addison Road.
The most extensive work would be to replace the fluorescent, compact fluorescent and halogen light fixtures in the school and the athletic training building with LED lights, said Will Lytwyn, vice president for project development of Plug Smart.
The new lighting would also include new controls, adding dimming capabilities in the special education rooms to better serve students who are sensitive to light, and the gymnasium for lighting effects.
The fluorescent lighting prevalent at the school is designed to work for 20,000 hours, and many of the fixtures are at that length of service.
“They are designed to fail at a very specific point in time,” Lytwyn said. “That’s what you’re seeing; (Maintenance Supervisor) Randy (Clark) can attest to this. He’s been mentioning that boxes of bulbs, boxes of ballasts, you’ve been continuously buying these up. You’re just at the front end of having to replace every single bulb and ballast in the district, anyway. Rather than putting that money towards the old technology, it’s an opportunity to take the same amount of money, put it towards a new investment and get the savings out of it.”
The plumbing work would address the district’s “higher than expected water bills,” he said.
Lytwyn also proposed replacing a ceiling-mounted air conditioning unit placed over top of the computer servers with two wall-mounted units, eliminating the chance that the air conditioner’s condensation pan would overflow and drip water into the server; and replacing a lighting control unit that is not user-friendly by incorporating the lighting controls into the heating, ventilation and air conditioning control system that is user-friendly.
At the football stadium, Lytwyn proposed replacing the eight wooden light poles with four galvanized steel poles and new lights, and burying the electrical wires so they don’t dangle over spectators.
Board member Sarah Kurpe said she used to work for a competitor of Plug Smart. “I’m very familiar with this type of program and what it provides,” she said. “A lot of this is very consistent to what I would have seen in the past. The electrical piece is what offsets the project. You get the lighting as an area to help offset what it would cost us to go out there and just do the football stadium as a project in itself.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” said board member George Economides. “The only challenge that we have at this point in time is we also have another project as well.”
That other project is remediating building issues such as roof leaks and the shifting shale under the middle school. A consultant hired by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which built the school building with the district, is formulating a plan to fix the problems, and Supt. Toby Gibson said he expects a report from the consultant, WJE, any day now.
“There could be some potential that we could combine both projects together, as far as getting a loan from the bank to the school,” Economides said.
District Treasurer Julie Sloan said the district needs to see cost estimates on the remediation project before it can consider the Plug Smart proposal.
If the board undertakes the project, Plug Smart would make 7 to 9 percent of the project cost, depending on the scope of work, Gibson said, and its fee has been built into the cost estimates.
Board member Jerry Necastro asked if undertaking the Plug Smart project would mean the district would not pursue a plan to create a multi-sport stadium where the track now is at the school, and move football games there.
Gibson said there is no electricity or water service at the track, and running utilities there will be “costly.” However, if the district ever decides to undertake that cost, or secures funding sponsors, the galvanized steel light poles could be moved from Nicholas Field to the new stadium, he said.