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HCMS, Eastern get energy upgrades

Henry County Local, Eminence, Aug. 7, 2013
HCMS, Eastern get energy upgrades
By Brad Bowman

Henry County students attending Eastern Elementary and Henry County Middle School will notice green upgrades at their schools this week.

The Henry County Board of Education hired CMTA Energy Solutions with Henry County alumni Jeremy Kelley, CMTA project engineer, to change out the systems that Henry County Superintendent Tim Abrams said were outdated.

“The middle school was an energy hog,” Abrams said. “The boiler room and HVAC plant in the middle school is from the 1970s. We paid for the upgrades through a guaranteed energy savings contract. The savings we hope to add to our general fund. The middle school was one of the least efficient and now it will be one of the best.”

The upgrades included replacement of the heating, cooling and ventilation systems at Henry County Middle School and Eastern Elementary with geothermal systems that have a separate heating and cooling unit for air ventilation. The energy savings guaranteed by CMTA Energy Solutions will equate to $175,000 going back into the district’s general fund, and the improvements will pay for themselves over the next 20 years.

Kelley said the ventilation equipment will improve air quality.

“The middle school’s new dedicated ventilation system has energy recovery wheels that will be on top of the buildings. With a ventilation system you are continually bringing in air from outside and pushing exhaust air,” Kelley said. “You are taking 72 degree air that is conditioned and pushing it outside as exhaust. This system will pre-cool or preheat the air we are bringing in making it a more efficient system. Before the fans were blowing air and it also came through cracks in the doors or windows and you could see the bowed tiles caused by the humidity problems.”

Kelley said 6-inch holes were drilled on a grid for geothermal tubes that will store heat below ground for heat use during the winter.

“It’s very satisfying for me to improve Eastern Elementary, the middle school and high school that we did previously,” Kelley said. “I went to school in those buildings. I’ve been in the buildings and it feels good to do something for the county you grew up in.”

Kelley said his division at CMTA finds ways for schools to take money they spend on utilities and maintenance for upgrades like these.

“It is a net-neutral shift or positive cash flow back to the district,” Kelley said. “We are proud to be a part of it. It was a lot to get done in two months.  Everyone at Henry County Schools has been a pleasure to work with throughout this project.  A lot of hard work and cooperation took place over the last two months to make this project a success.  The best thing about this project is it will drastically improve the learning environment for the students, while paying for itself with money that was previously paid to utility companies.”

Students will also notice aesthetic changes to the middle school.

“I have wanted to take the carpet out of the middle school since I was there in mid 1990s,” Abrams said. “We replaced it with VCT tile and it looks great.”

According to CMTA benchmarks the project will annually save 535,000 kwh of electricity, 11,645 gallons of propane, 2,027,000 cubic feet of natural gas and 3,553,000 gallons of water.  With a geothermal system and the recent upgrades, it will reduce carbon equivalent to taking 135 cars off the road each year, the energy to power 81 homes and the CO2 absorption of 447 acres of forest per year.

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