Steamboat Springs School District completes $2.78 million in energy upgrades

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The Steamboat Springs School District has nearly completed a $2.78 million energy efficiency overhaul that includes thousands of new light bulbs and new digitally controlled thermostats.

While the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system still is being monitored and tweaked for accuracy, the system when operating offers convenience and immense energy savings for the district, said Pascal Ginesta, the district's director of maintenance, operations and transportation.

“I can sit here on my computer or on my laptop in my living room or my cellphone in my truck and make a change to the temperature in any building in the district,” Ginesta said.

The Tridium energy management system replaces outdated room-by-room thermostats at the district office and middle school and control systems at the district’s other buildings.

Thermostats are set between 64 and 71 degrees, with temperatures dropping between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and during weekends, unless a teacher inside a building alerts the system that the room is occupied.

Previously, thermostats at some locations would have to be turned down room by room, and all would have to be turned down manually, decreasing the chance that all rooms would be cooled to a reasonable temperature when empty for nights or weekends.

“It’s real easy to do the math on the savings,” Ginesta said.

The HVAC system, new boilers and some insulation at the high school as well as a series of other energy-efficiency upgrades were installed during the summer, though the overall project isn’t 100 percent complete, Ginesta said.

The project was funded through Certificates of Participation, which allow the district to borrow the money for the work and pay it back through the money saved in energy costs.

The program is run through energy services company Navitas, which studied the district’s needs and proposed upgrades it ensured would offer gainful savings.

In addition to the HVAC upgrades, lighting was updated across the district, with more than 5,800 light bulbs updated to energy-efficient versions.

Light switches also were fitted with sensors to control lighting left on in empty rooms.

Ginesta said the replacement of bulbs and lighting ballasts means that it will be at least five years before he might start replacing bulbs.

Wall-length sliding glass doors were replaced with windows at the middle school to help control energy loss that occurred when doors were opened to cool off rooms overheated with electric in-floor heat.

“The doors had far exceeded their lifetime,” Ginesta said. “Our electric bills at the middle school were outrageous.”

Ginesta said the program through Navitas allowed the district to make significant upgrades it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.

The district usually spends about $300,000 on deferred maintenance projects during a summer, he said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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