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Install Energy-Saving Units in Burbank 111

Burbank School District 111 held ribbon-cutting celebrations on May 9 at two schools, Kennedy and McCord, officially unveiling the new geothermal heating, ventilation and air conditioning units that have been installed throughout both schools.

The celebrations were initially planned for April 17, but had to be postponed due to torrential rains and flooding that closed the schools that day.

The geothermal heating units, which in simple terms use water pumped from underground to heat and cool the buildings, were mainly installed over the past summer, and replace the outdated electrical heating and cooling units Ñ similar to those found in hotel rooms Ñ which had been in both schools.

The school district contracted with Energy Systems Group, an energy services provider, to develop a comprehensive energy infrastructure improvement project aimed at reducing energy consumption, saving repair costs, and commitment to energy conservation district wide.

In addition to the geothermal units at Kennedy and McCord, installed as Phase 1 of the project, energy conservation measures and improvements are planned for the six other district schools, and the administration building. This will include lighting upgrades and occupancy sensors in all nine buildings.

It was noted at the ribbon-cuttings that by installing the geothermal units, the school district has reduced its carbon footprint by 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equivalent to planting 266 acres of trees annually, or removing the emissions of 167 cars from the atmosphere each year.

On May 9, students at both schools demonstrated that they understood the big picture too. At Kennedy, 7644 S. Central Ave., students from first through sixth grade showed visitors their geothermal knowledge in various ways. Bilingual students first took turns reading a poem about geothermal energy, in several different languages, including, English, Spanish, Polish, Arabic and Bosnian, representing the ethnically diverse makeup of the school, where a large percentage of students speak more than one language.

One student from each of the 16 classrooms in the school also donned their handmade large, colorful letters spelling out Ògeothermal energy” and reciting something about it connected with each letter.

Adam Nitz, another young student, concluded the event by demonstrating how geothermal energy worked, by heating water to produce steam to move a pinweel.

Following the Kennedy event, school district officials and others went over to McCord School, at 8450 S. Nashville Ave., where first-graders in teacher Linda Burt’s classroom took turns explaining and demonstrating all types of energy, from human energy used to push and pull energy, to static electricity, which girls demonstrated by rubbing balloons over their hair to make it stand up. Sixth-graders then came into the classroom to sing a song about geothermal energy composed by music teacher Marie Swanson.

ÒThanks. Try finding words to rhyme with geothermal energy,” she joked.

ÒDeveloping young minds for tomorrow is our theme as we pursue educational excellence in the Burbank Community,” said Ted Stec, Burbank School District 111, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Human Resources. ÒThrough the efforts of Burbank ‘s Board of Education, Finance Committee, staff and Energy Systems Group, we are implementing Phase 1 of an energy asset modernization project.”

ÒThis project will not only improve comfort and increase lighting levels but substantially reduce our energy costs to free up our budgets for educational purposes.

Stec said that he was able to obtain Òjust under $400,000 in grants” to offset the cost of installing the new equipment, which has already resulted in cost-saving for the district.

ÒThese two buildings were all electric buildings,” he said, noting that the geothermal units are saving the district $70,000 per year in energy costs alone. He said $50,000 was spent last year just to keep the old units in working order.

With some of the savings, Stec treated students at Kennedy to geothermal-themed T-shirts, and McCord students were going to the Museum of Science and Industry this week.

ÒWe look forward to a Phase 2 project the summer of 2013 that will further reduce our costs and improve our energy performing assets,” he said.

ÒWe commend Burbank School District 111 for its innovative leadership in enhancing the learning environment for students while embracing environmental stewardship and sustainability,” said Dan Legler, ESG account executive.

Energy Systems Group (ESG). He praised the students as well as Stec, District Supt. Franzy Fleck and other leaders for their work in updating the system at both schools. But he said that aside from the energy savings, the educational opportunities it provided the students was the most important result of the project.

ÒI’ve been kind of overwhelmed by what you students did,” said Legler.

ÒWhat you see is the educational impact,” agreed Stec. He said with a smile that many parents have already called, wondering Òwhy my child is running home and shutting off all the lights.”

ÒThe community awareness, the school awareness. This is truly a project that we will benefit from for a very long time. It gave us an opportunity to serve as an example. We’re going to be cleaner and greener. That is what it is all about,” said Fleck.

School Board President Carleen Skowronski was also impressed by what she saw at both schools.

“I am all about saving money, and putting it back into education,” she said. ÒThe first thing I looked at when joining the board was the books, and I asked why it was costing so much to heat and cool these schools,” she said. ÒI was surprised to learn that they were all electrical. This is going to be a huge saving.”

More information about the ESG project under way in School District 111 may be obtained by visiting http://www.energysystemsgroup.com/burbank.

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