Students and faculty at Campbell-Tintah Public School are benefitting from energy-efficient renovations and an energy management system — including updates to the school’s hot-water piping, lighting and roof — that were completed over the summer. On Monday, representatives from Otter Tail Power Company presented a check to the school for $135,492 in rebates and a grant through its Conservation Improvement Program.
The combined rebates were for lighting, thermal storage, variable frequency drives and motor. A grant in the amount of $84,360 was included for the new ventilation system.
The nearly $4.5 million project included new roof sections, partial drainage solutions, a new electric thermal storage boiler, hot water heating and a new ventilation system. The project was funded by Health and Safety bonds and a capital equipment lease.
A big part of the project was the “steam to hot water conversion,” said Brian Prall, lead project development engineer with Ameresco, an independent provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.
Superintendent Wayne Olson said the district has seen savings already.
“Last year we’d go through four or five tankers of fuel oil. I’ve seen the bills we’ve gotten, and we haven’t come close to paying for all those tankers yet,” Olson said.
“It’s been a very good project,” said School Board Chair Randy Rittenour. “It started very well, and bumps like this (check) really help.”
“We’re very grateful for the rebates and grant,” Olson said. “We were expecting about $40,000, and to find out we’re getting more than three times that amount, we’re obviously thrilled.”
The majority of the project was completed before the first day of the school year began. During the summer there were 40 or 50 craftsmen working at the same time on the 100-year-old building – everyone from mechanical and electrical workers to sheet metal and piping contractors.
“We pushed pretty hard to get it done,” Prall said. “It was a big team that worked on it.”
“There was a lot of demolition needed to get started,” he added. “It was a discovery process. Every time you took off a piece of ceiling, there was a surprise underneath. It’s not always as the old plans show.”
Campbell-Tintah School now has the largest Steffes ETS heating installation in the United States designed with a ventilation system, according to John Neville, regional director with Ameresco.
Bill Klyve, energy management representative with Otter Tail Power Co., explained the new heating system runs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. each night, when energy costs are cheaper. The ceramic bricks inside the thermal storage units are super-heated to approximately 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. That heat is then discharged into water during the day that passes through pipes and warm air is blown out into the rooms in the school.
“Compared to fuel oil, we’re projecting about $60,000 in savings each year,” Klyve said.
He provided information showing the difference in annual energy costs with the school’s previous fuel oil steam boiler and the new thermal storage heating system. The fuel oil steam boiler cost the school more than $87,000 in energy bills, whereas the new thermal system will run at $22,684.
The renovation started as a way to save on heating expenses, but in order for the school to be able to access Health and Safety funding, a ventilation system needed to be installed. A central heating system was required to accompany the ventilation system.
The new ventilation system has improved air quality throughout the school. Larger fan motors use variable frequency drives for air volume and energy savings. New outside air intakes allow up to 100 percent fresh air to be supplied to each room. The system includes new individual room and zone temperature and humidity controls, allowing heated or dehumidified outside air for each occupied room.
“Before these updates, we had students opening windows in classrooms because it was so hot, and they might go to the next classroom and have to wear coats,” Olson said. “There was no consistency in the heating. When there isn’t air flow, students start nodding off. Now we have an efficient, reliable heating system and fresh air coming in. It’s a much better learning environment for the students.”