COLUMBIA — Five elementary schools in Columbia are receiving eco-friendly heating and cooling technology. Benton and Blue Ridge elementary schools already have the new systems to meet summer school needs, and Parkade, Russell and Fairview elementary schools expect to have the systems installed by Aug. 17.
“The reason these schools were selected was because they had the largest amount of kids we could positively impact with the money we have from the bond issue,” said Jack Jensen, Columbia Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for elementary education.
The new technology being installed includes ground source heat pumps, also known as geothermal heat pumps, which are intended to make heating and cooling more cost-efficient.
The old system the buildings used, which only provided heating, cost a combined $385,000 in utilities from July 2005 to June 2006, said Koby Kampschroeder, the project’s business development manager. Kampschroeder is with ConEdison Solutions company, which ran the project.
Christine Nevin, director, business and media relations at ConEdison Solutions, said discussions about the project began in March 2006, and that this technology has not been used in Columbia Public School buildings before.
The project is part of $14.1 million in district repairs and upgrades being funded by a $60 million school bond issue that was approved by voters in April 2007. Kampschroeder said the cost of the ground source systems and required upgrades to implement them cost about $7 million.
“We considered it as a district because it is a very energy-efficient, durable and reliable system,” Jensen said. “Though it may be expensive, the energy savings will actually pay for itself in a matter of seven to 10 years.”
The new system, which includes air conditioning, will cost only $355,000 yearly in utilities. That figure is significantly less than the cost of some other options.
“We saved about $160,000 per year compared to more traditional heating and cooling systems for every year that these systems are in use,” Nevin said.
The district is replacing old heating systems that used combustible fossil fuels to produce heat. The new heating and cooling systems transmit and exchange heat between the school buildings and outside well fields.
“It’s a closed-loop vertical system,” Kampschroeder said of the new system. “Nothing goes out into the environment. It pulls heat from the ground, and it takes heat out of the building and puts it in the ground.”
The new system also combines heating with air conditioning, a new amenity for the targeted schools.
“It was the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee that identified that we need air conditioning for all buildings,” Jensen said. “These buildings were not air-conditioned. The decision was made to look at possible systems, and this one was chosen for its energy efficiency.”