HVAC Systems Installed in Columbia Schools

Related Story

COLUMBIA - This summer, Columbia Public Schools updated West Middle School and Field School with ground source heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems--the greenest HVAC system the district has.

The ground source HVAC system exchanges heat with the ground. This is an energy-efficient system in that ground temperatures are more stable than air temperatures.

"The use of electricity is not as high as what you would see with some older systems," the community relations director of Columbia Public Schools, Michelle Baumstark, said.

These renovations were part of 2010 and 2012 voter-approved bonds. Baumstark said the HVAC renovations at West were budgeted for $3 million. In the district's fall newsletter, Superintendent Chris Belcher is quoted saying the systems will pay for themselves in six or seven years.

The process of installing this system was not a quick. Renovations started last year by focusing on engineering planning. Baumstark said the district started working this summer on taking the ceilings down, retrofitting electricity and getting the ductwork installed.

Last year, the majority of West Middle classrooms did not have air conditioning, said Principal Connie Dewey. This year, teachers were welcomed back with air conditioning in their classrooms.

"It's made a big difference," Dewey said. "Teachers who previously came to West in August and had hot classrooms came this year to cool rooms."

Baumstark said the decision on the schools in which to install the system depended on whether or not the school had an existing system and if so, the state of the current system.

Baumstark said that the goal of the district is to have this energy-efficient air conditioning in every building. Currently, there are seven schools that operate with the ground source HVAC system. Baumstark said Jefferson Middle School will have HVAC renovations completed next summer, and New Haven and Rock Bridge elementary schools will have the HVAC installed entirely.

West's installation will be completed soon.

"By the end of September, we are being told that all of our teachers will be in their final classroom locations with full HVAC and we will no longer need the trailers," Dewey said.