LISBON - The school board is spending $22,000 to correct a problem that is preventing it from maximizing savings under a $1.1 million energy conservation program begun 18 months ago.
The board voted at Tuesday's meeting to hire the Cleveland-area firm of Gardiner Trane for $22,000 to replace malfunctioning carbon dioxide sensors on the HVAC systems that are preventing the system from achieving maximum energy efficiency.
Gardiner is the firm hired by the board in 2010 to perform the energy conservation study and then draft the plan to make the necessary improvements to achieve those savings.
Bonds totaling $1.1 million were sold through the state's school energy conservation program, with the district to pay off the bonds over 15 years. The conservation measures were projected to save the district $146,380 per year in utility costs, which is enough to pay off the debt in less than 12 years.
Gardiner was recently paid $3,000 to determine if the changes were achieving the promised savings, and School Superintendent Don Thompson reported that they were not. "At this point we are only at 70 percent of what we should be," he said.
The problem is the HVAC sensors on the pre-existing portion of the system, which are out of calibration and cannot be recalibrated to work with the new portion of the system. This is causing the HVAC systems to operate inefficiently by running more frequently than necessary.
Thompson said the pre-existing HVAC system that was retained is not all that old, having been installed during the 2004-2008 period when the elementary and junior/senior high schools underwent an upgrade. Rather than automatically upgrade the pre-existing HVAC, Gardiner recommended waiting to see how the old system would work in conjunction with the new system.
The new sensors will allow the pre-existing HVAC system to be calibrated in sync with the new system and begin operating in the energy efficient manner needed to achieve the promised savings.
"While we were saving, the savings were not where they need to be ... The issue became how long did we want to live with that 70 percent" savings, Thompson said.