Educational institutions consume large amounts of energy. And, with funding often reduced due to lack of funding and regional austerity programs, school adminstrators are looking for every advantage that will help them bring some improvements to their buildings.
Among those schools that are moving forward with capital improvments is the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Monty Tech). There, infrastructure upgrades currently being implemented at the school are expected to save more than $10.9 million in energy costs over the next two decades. The school will generate additional maintenance savings and avoid significant capital expenses by taking a comprehensive approach to facility needs.
Monty Tech, located in Fitchburg, MA, teaches 20 different trades, but also has some additional areas that add to its comfort and energy concerns. The school includes a child care center and also houses a performing arts center. According to sources, the upgrades were needed to create a healthier, more comfortable learning environment, and reduce energy costs at the 280,000 sq.ft. facility. School administrators plan to use the savings generated to fund capital improvement projects.
Monty Tech leaders are funding the upgrades through a performance contract with Trane, which is also providing the new energy saving systems being implemented at the school.
The performance contract allows the district to use future energy and operational savings to pay for the infrastructure improvements without the need to request additional funding from the 18 member communities that support Monty Tech. Performance contracting is a funding option that provides measurable results to support educational objectives.
The upgrades, which were launched in May 2013, are scheduled for completion by the end of this year. In addition to the operational and budgetary benefits over the 20-year term, energy savings from the project will reduce emissions equivalent to removing 6,943 passenger cars from the road.
“These upgrades will help us meet our most important goal, educating students, by creating a better learning environment for students and a better teaching environment for faculty and staff,” says Steven C. Sharek, superintendent-director at Monty Tech.
Building Improvements Part of the Mission
The improvements represent a major step in transforming Monty Tech into a high performance facility that reflects the school’s educational mission. High performance buildings take a whole building approach to performance, while creating spaces that are reliable, safe, healthy, comfortable and efficient.
Adminstrators did some "homework" of their own before they went ahead with the plan. Prior to implementing the improvements, the school worked with Trane to undertake a comprehensive energy audit, which identified ways to save money on utility costs. Based on the results of the audit, school leaders selected the infrastructure systems that would best meet their needs.
Selected upgrades include installing an energy management system which provides round-the-clock remote monitoring to ensure that systems perform at optimal levels. The school replaced more than 40 rooftop HVAC units with more energy-efficient systems which will provide optimal indoor environments while consuming substantially less energy.
School leaders also selected a more energy-efficient central heating plant to make and distribute hot water for heating needs throughout the facility. The school implemented more energy-efficient lighting, added better insulation to the building and added a new dust collector in one of the career and technical education program areas.
Other energy-saving improvements included a new condensing style natural gas heater for the greenhouse, new controls to improve operations of walk-in food storage, upgraded kitchen exhaust hood controls and a new roof for the entire facility.