DERBY - Robert Favali, director of building services for engineering firm DuBois & King Inc., provided a “rough estimate” to the North Country Junior High School Board for all of the projects they are contemplating. These include HVAC heating and ventilation projects, insulating, replacing energy inefficient or non-working pumps, switches, control units, mechanical units, plumbing improvements and others items.
Favali noted he doesn't have a priority list of projects but, based on his assessment of the facility without design drawings, he believes a total building renovation of the HVAC systems and other work could cost between $950,000 and $1,250,000, not including engineering services ($45,000-$55,000) and a comprehensive energy audit ($6000). The energy audit will be facilitated by Efficiency Vermont, who will help investigate rebates for major equipment and system upgrades.
The HVAC system is inefficient and ineffective. The six switches that regulate heat “run wild” with no capacity to start and stop, so they run at full horsepower when they are on. The school also has hot and cold spots, which means heat isn't being distributed evenly. One example is the bathrooms get cold because the exhaust system in the kitchen doesn't have “make up” air – air that comes from outside the building. When the exhaust is turned on it sucks hot air out of the bathrooms and other places, and this hot air is blown out of the building through the kitchen.
At the September board meeting, Favali reviewed the issues that concerned the board and agreed to come back with a rough estimate of the cost. Board chair Deb Cogan said the board could consider a tiered process to replace the equipment versus bonding for the renovations. Favali agreed a tiered process could be an option but cautioned the board, “Using a tiered approach will cost more in the long run. You (the board) can loose momentum over time. The difference between a sum total approach and a tiered approach is you have to follow through or it will cost you more.”
Board member Richard Cartee advocated for a sum total approach and noted, “When you do it piecemeal it can cost more; you take down the ceiling and two years later you do it again. It's extra expense.”
The board will now develop a priority list of projects, get more specific cost estimates, and decide on a financing approach they can take to the taxpayers for approval.
In related news, North Country Superintendent Dr. Robert Kern told the board that a feasibility study has been completed for elementary schools on the west side of the county. The study for a stand-alone, 6-8 grade junior high school has been given to the elementary school boards for review. The next step is a site cost and development study if the boards express an interest in continuing the process.