Energy alert: BOE considers new control system

Building equipment obsolete, out of date

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — A report on the control systems which oversee the heating and cooling of the buildings in Sidney City Schools was presented during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

“Last May, the district went into a cooperative contract with Waibel Energy Systems,” said Jerry Harmon, the school district’s business manager.

Waibel, he said, has the ability to monitor the control system for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) for Sidney High School, Sidney Middle School and the board of education office. The company works jointly with school employees to ensure the buildings are energy efficient in hot and cold weather. The district’s employees also monitor the control systems in the buildings.

“They are a major player in the new control system we need (district wide),” said Harmon. “By the July meeting, I’d like to have a recommendation of how we should go forward.”

Three Waibel employees — Dave Crosley, Dave Conklin and Rodney Rhoades — were present to talk about the building controls district wide. Waibel assists school districts save money by making its buildings more energy efficient.

“We are locally owned,” said Crosley, Waibel general manager of the Vandalia-based company. “We have 120 associates. For the last three years, we’ve worked with the Southwestern Ohio Educational Purchasing Council. We’ve done surveys of 70 school districts. We have a benchmark of how each is doing against each other. We can figure the cost of energy per square foot of the building and the cost per student.”

He said 32 school districts have signed up for the program.

“Sidney will have saved $100,000 by the end of the year,” said Crosley.

Conklin, Waibel account manager, has worked closely with SCS during the year the district has been with the program.

“Your buildings are well maintained,” said Conklin. “But the building automation systems are old and need to be replaced.”

He said the elementary school system is out of date and obsolete. It’s hard to find replacement parts when something fails because the system is so old.

The control system at the middle school, said Conklin, is more modern but last year it also became obsolete. Parts for the system are also hard to find.

“A modern system offers a lot of good things for the staff,” said Conklin. “It’s all internet based so employees can access it remotely. We can also see it remotely from our office and if there’s a problem, determine what is needed before sending a technician out.

“The new system can also send an alarming notice to the employee’s email,” he said.

The board of education office has the same system as the middle school, said Conklin. The high school is a mix of three different systems.

“As the high school was renovated, a new system was added,” said Conklin. “The system is not digital and it’s causing comfort issues for the students.”

To install a new system district wide, said Conklin, is a big ticket item. The front end system would allow a person to log in from anywhere in the world.

“We would split the cost over a three year period,” said Conklin, who didn’t share what the cost of the project might be. “There would be no additional costs or fees.”

“We would include our services with that,” said Crosley. “A project like this is never really time. We’ll take care of all the service of the system and it has a three-year warranty. Remote support would include unlimited training, on-site training and help desk which will walk you through problems. We have unlimited training offered at our Vandalia site or can provide support over the phone.

“This is just not an energy savings program, it’s also an operational savings program,” said Crosley.

Conklin said if the new system is installed, even more energy savings could be seen for the district.

“We think in less than nine years, you would have a complete payback of the system (though energy savings). The new system would improve comfort in the schools and improve the air quality in the schools,” said Conklin.

Crosley said it will take about a year to get the system installed. They would start with the elementary schools and the common areas and classrooms in the buildings.

“We’re very good about coordinating work with the staff,” said Crosley. “We would be doing work during summer break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and spring break so we don’t disrupt the learning process. The sooner we could get started the better.”

Board member Paul Heins questioned whether any work would be done at Parkwood and Lowell.

“They’re not on the list,” said Heins. “Someday we night have to use (Lowell) and I think it needs to be looked at in the process.”

Crosley said they could do minimum upgrades on those buildings.

Conklin said if the district decides to go with the new control system, Waibel would guarantee an additional $40,000 in savings each year.

The board’s next meeting will be July 17 at 5:30 p.m.

Building equipment obsolete, out of date

By Melanie Speicher