We would like to provide an update on the HVAC status as well as provide the timeline to show what has been done over the last couple of years so everyone has the complete picture.
Throughout the year The Strategic Planning Committee met and discussed the challenges we have been experiencing with our current HVAC system and we continued the process to improve functionality and comfort levels.
We received an assessment from WattSmart (Rocky Mountain Incentive Program) – this program highlighted some options:
- Upgrade our current evaporative cooling system
- Retrofit the building with VRF/VRC systems
- Install a costly ground-loop heat pump system
- Install a chilled water system that could utilize the existing hydronic distribution piping
Option 4 was eliminated as it would not be able to cool the building to an extent that would keep up with the longer hotter summers.
Option 3 was eliminated as it was very costly and out of the budget.
Option 2 was deemed the best option for the building and the budget but also expensive, estimated between $1.5-2.5 million.
Option 1 was selected initially to help with specific hot spots and areas that struggled more than others and to give some additional time to budget and plan for option 2.
The evaporative cooler that cools the Toddler classrooms was upgraded in June 2021. An additional portable evaporative cooler was purchased that could be wheeled into a class or the Gym when temperatures grew in specific areas. All of the other evaporative coolers were tuned up for optimum cooling.
The Strategic Planning Committee created an HVAC subcommittee to research and help with the HVAC project specifically. The HVAC subcommittee decided it made sense to move forward with a full engineering analysis and one was performed on the school’s existing infrastructure.
Before and after the engineering analysis, the school interacted with more than 22 companies and sent the engineering analysis to many of them. Some of them immediately said they could not help. After seeing the engineering analysis some of them said they could and then once they came to the school and saw the scope, said that they couldn’t. A leading HVAC and plumbing company who had helped the school in the past said they could do it and scheduled a time to come out and start the planning, then when it came to start the work, backed out due to being overwhelmed with other projects. The company who manages the church’s HVAC next-door claimed that they could do it and after six separate calls and multiple emails, never put together a firm bid.
The summer of 2022 proved to be unseasonably hot and humid, meaning that even with the tuned up evaporative coolers and the new one over the Toddler classrooms, it was not enough to stay cool.
As an additional stop-gap solution, nine portable AC units were purchased to cool all the upstairs classes. They had to be retrofitted to the windows and additional electrical infrastructure was put in place in order to allow them to function. This meant that the evaporative coolers that typically pushed air from upstairs to downstairs had to be turned off as they were not compatible with the new portable AC units and the downstairs floors remained warm.
Within the last few weeks the school has finally received a firm bid from a local HVAC contractor to completely upgrade the entire heating and cooling infrastructure. The cost will be between $800K and $1.2 million dollars which is a staggering amount but we believe it is an important step in continuing to ensure students have an ideal environment in which to learn and grow. As we have throughout this process, we continue to research grants and other funding options to help offset some of the costs of this large capital investment.
As with any project of this magnitude we hope to meet certain targets but plan for unexpected variables. If things go well we may begin working in late January and anticipate it taking at least three or four months to complete.
We appreciate everyone who has helped with this project. It has been long and time consuming but we are excited to see a solution on the horizon. Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions.