School improvement project wrapping up, aiming for increased energy efficiency

Construction is currently wrapping up on a $4 million project to improve the environment of the Hettinger Public School building.

Most of the improvements at Hettinger Public School are not visible, but some of the more noticeable ones were done in the gymnasium. The blue, duct socks that run the length of the ceiling is a new way for ventilating the building. New lighting fixtures have also been installed along with special fans to heat the area. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Record)
Most of the improvements at Hettinger Public School are not visible, but some of the more noticeable ones were done in the gymnasium. The blue, duct socks that run the length of the ceiling is a new way for ventilating the building. New lighting fixtures have also been installed along with special fans to heat the area. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Record)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

Construction is currently wrapping up on a $4 million project to improve the environment of the Hettinger Public School building.

Opened classroom windows during subzero temperatures used to be a common sight at the school. But now, with updated equipment, and smart switches, students and teachers should be more comfortable, and focus can stay on education.

The project started in March of 2015 and was initially going to start with the poor lighting throughout the building. But after an assessment by engineers, they realized more of the behind-the-walls infrastructure was going to require attention.

Some of the more dire problems began to arise during Superintendent Larry Sebastian’s second year with the school district, and the deferred repairs with the system began to add up.

“They were in dire need of repair,” Sebastian said. “It was something that needed to be addressed and get done.”

The heating and cooling system was mostly intact from the original construction, the latest addition of the school dates back to 1966.

“Most of the stuff in the building was the original equipment,” Sebastian said.

Repairs were becoming increasingly difficult, given the age of the system. Parts were getting harder and harder to come by, and costs started to add up.

So the school hired CTS Group out of Bismarck, and they guided the district through the process of bidding, hiring contractors, and organizing the project.

Sebastian said that engineers went from room to room at the school and analyzed what needed to be addressed.

Nothing that was fixed was cosmetic, everything was internal and behind the walls, according to Sebastian. But everything that was addressed, needed the attention.

“There’s nothing we did, that didn’t need to be done,” he said.

Improvements included new piping, ventilation systems, and duct work. The building’s lighting systems have also been converted to new, energy efficient LED bulbs.

“We are able to accomplish a lot of different things for the school,” Kristopher Schwab said.

Schwab is a Solutions Development Engineer with CTS Group.

Perhaps the most visible change is to the large gymnasium, where a new type of material was used for duct work.

Replacing the hanging unit heaters, new outfits have been set up behind the stage and they pump air through duct socks. The duct socks are made out of a washable fabric and lines the entire length of the ceiling, with holes punched out for the ventilation to escape.

“The air is actually engineered to come out of the slits,” Schwab said.

The new lighting system is motion activated. When movement is detected, the lights turn on. After 15 minutes of inactivity, the lights will shut off.

The ventilation system is also a smart system. The levels of Co2 are monitored, and if it detects an increase, the system will pump fresh air into the gym. So basically, it can filter air in and out based on the number of people sitting in the stands and competing on the court or performing on the stage.

The roof over the ’66 addition was also replaced. When they took core samples, the material was very saturated with moisture, and in fact the roof was actually one roof built over a roof, so there were two levels. They removed both levels and replaced it with new material and increased their R-factor (the ability to hold heat and cold in) from nine to 35.

The improvements should help in lowering the energy cost for the district.

“This whole building is going to be much more energy efficient,” Schwab said.

Schwab also said that they have a guaranteed energy performance contract with the district.

“A lot of the improvements that we were able to make that we attached energy savings to are guaranteed for 15 years,” Schwab said. “If we don’t meet those energy savings, by state mandate we have to cut the district a check for the difference.”

Some improvements did not qualify for the performance contract, but under the agreement the lighting and the ventilation qualify.

The superintendent thinks that investing in these updates should benefit the district for many years.

“It should last, in my opinion, as long as our former structure had lasted,” Sebastian said. “Which is quite awhile.”

The project is nearly complete. The final steps will included getting the temperature regulated. Currently the building is being heated, but until they management system is completely calibrated, Schwab will continue to make visits to Hettinger. They expect to be finished by December.

Sebastian told the Record that the second floor of the building still has some issues that need to be addressed. But he said those conversations have not taken place yet, they wanted to wait and get this project wrapped up before moving on to other ventures.







GAMES