In 2017, Green Energy Times ran an article, “Plymouth New Hampshire Regional High School Energy Efficiency Upgrades,” describing work done by Energy Efficient Investments (EEI) for New Hampshire’s School Administrative Unit 48 (SAU 48) to upgrade energy systems for Plymouth High School (www.bit.ly/Plymouth-upgrades).
Since that time, the promised new levels of efficiency of the new system have been achieved, providing the school system with some impressive savings. Prior to that upgrade, about 60,000 gallons of oil were burned for heat each year, and the replacement system is much less expensive to run. The electricity used for lights has also been reduced by 35% by installing LEDs.
Plymouth High School is just one of the eight schools SAU 48 is responsible for. The other schools are all for younger students. All of those schools also need heating and lighting upgrades from time to time. Projects are awarded to the companies whose work gives taxpayers the best value, and when it came time to upgrade the energy system for the Campton Elementary School (CES), EEI had the advantage of having a proven record.
EEI is not simply a sales and installation company. It goes beyond that. Starting with energy audits, it can guide a customer through the many steps to energy improvements. Depending on what is needed, EEI does part of the work itself, or it helps find someone who can do it. Some of the many things EEI does include analysis of existing needs and future costs, design to implement the most cost-effective systems possible, helping to find funding, helping on grant applications, and finding tax incentives.
CES used 18,000 gallons of oil each year for heat. The oil was burned in a heating system that was well past its prime and was badly in need of replacement. There were other common problems of efficiency and energy at the school, such as replacing lighting with LEDs.
There was also one big problem that seemed to be irrelevant to questions of energy. It was a large storage shed used for lawn equipment that was in dire need of replacement. The shed was in a perfect spot for a new outdoor furnace. And so, it became part of the energy upgrade for the school.
Over the summer of 2020, EEI managed to get work done on the extensive change-over, during the time it was normally out of use. The old boiler was removed. So was the old shed. A new shed was built, with room for the new wood-chip fired boiler on its lower level. A silo for the wood chips was installed.
The new biomass boiler was built by Schmid, a company based in Switzerland. It was installed by Froling Energy of Keene, New Hampshire. This is the same Froling Energy that is well known to GET readers, as it has been central to multiple articles, including “Benefits to the Planet Heating with Forest Products,” which appeared in our September 2020 issue (www.bit.ly/forest-biomass). Froling is not only the installer, however, as it will have continued connection to the school by servicing the boilers and supplying wood chips.
The upgrades at CES included more than heat, of course. The lighting system was changed over to LEDs controlled by use of Philips SpaceWise technology. The SpaceWise control system is wireless making it possible to have sophisticated smart lighting without the cost of wired installation. The lights can be controlled in zones, such as classrooms, with equipment that senses a range of things from the presence of people to the amount of daylight.
The people at EEI like to make the upgrades pay for themselves. Mike Davey, EEI’s Business Development Manager said, “We try to help the energy savings pay for the work. Typically, the project is cost-neutral.”
The savings should cover the cost of the new equipment and installation. In the case of the Campton Elementary School, EEI helped get grant funding from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, reducing costs. Ultimately, the cost of the energy portion of the upgrades was sufficiently well covered to be cost-neutral, and the only bit not covered in that is the cost of the new shed, which was needed, but not part of the energy and efficiency project.