Environmental-friendly heating and lighting systems are key components of the soon-to-be completed Genoa Elementary School.
“We are very proud of what we are doing here,” said Superintendent Dennis Mock of the use of green technologies.
Buehrer Group, an architecture/engineering company from Maumee, designed the inclusion of the geothermal heating/cooling system, solar panels, and day lighting systems into the building that’ll soon be the new home for students in grades kindergarten to fifth. Brunner and Allen Central schools – the two aging buildings now housing the system’s 622 elementary students – will be closed at the end of the school year.
Geothermal heating/cooling relies on an energy exchange between the building being heated and the ground. The chief element of the system is a 25-foot pond on the campus located along Genoa-Clay Center Road. Four geothermal systems were built into the pond and there are four to six lines coming off each one that feed into a main line connected to the building, Mock explained.
Basically, in the summer, a pump pulls heat from the 81,000-square foot building. And in the winter, it works in the reverse.
“It’s serving two purposes,” Mock said of the large pond. “It will be part of our geothermal system and allow us to irrigate our athletic fields. Right now, we get our water from Oregon, and we pay for that.”
The cost of the geothermal system (pond and the system itself) is $375,000, according to Treasurer Bill Nye.
Contractors equipped the pond with a backup well system. This is necessary because the pond must maintain a water depth of 22 feet to operate properly. School officials also enclosed the pond with a 6-foot metal fence for safety reasons.
The estimated savings from geothermal system is pegged at $30,000 to $40,000 annually, which equates to approximately one-third of the present cost for gas/electricity at the elementary buildings, Nye said. He added the figures are “conservative estimates” based on information/proposals provided by Buehrer Group.
“It’s the wave of the future,” Mock said, noting that the heating/cooling system as well as the light system will all be tied to a main control board within the office of Building Maintenance Supervisor Neil Opfer.
Day lighting has been weaved into the construction plan through a number of ways. The most noticeable is the placement of 5-foot by 8-foot vertical windows within light wells that filter light into the classroom.
“Over 75 percent of all classrooms are designed to be lit entirely with day lighting,” Mock explained. “It filters the light into the center of the room, and then disperses it throughout.”
Rooms decorated in earth tones as well as the positioning of the instructional wall (containing Smart Boards and marker boards) all tie into the overall efficiency of dispersing the light rays, he explained.
And when regular lighting is used, the classrooms are equipped with monitoring systems that shut off the lights if they don’t detect motion in the room after a set number of minutes, Mock said.
It is difficult to assess the savings for the lighting system, Nye said, because of the depth of the changes.
Reducing costs and increasing efficiency were priorities taken into consideration across the board, said Mock. That meant paying particular attention to resource stewardship and environmental impact.
Solar panels built atop the roof will assist in reducing heating costs as will the roof design. “The roof was designed with a ‘heat island effect’, linked to light-colored polyurethane vinyl material, Mock said.
“The appearance is metal. Metal reflects. This absorbs, but will help with the heating and cooling system.”
Of course, training will be necessary for Principal Brenda Murphy, her staff, as well as the maintenance crews at the new elementary, Mock said.
“There will be a lot to get used to,” he said.
Conservation even played a role when school officials took into consideration air flow quality, toilet water waste reduction and storm water management.
“We wanted the water to run off the site as well as it did before,” he said.
The new building’s technologies simply heighten environmental-friendly attitudes the school district has undertaken for years, Mock said.
“We manage everything down to the storage and collection of recyclables like paper and cans in the cafeteria,” he explained.
“We took a lot of consideration into everything we did,” Mock said, “Even the clocks. The ones in the classroom have faces. The ones in the halls are digital.”
The reason: The face clocks are a standard for many schools. However, in this age of computers, some kids still struggle to read face clocks, thus, the need for digital, he said.