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June 11, 2015 - Maintenance & Operations
“Doing more with less” is an all-too-common phrase for maintenance and engineering managers these days, especially in education facilities where school budgets continue to shrink.
The Altar Valley School District encompasses nearly 600 square miles of high Sonoran desert and mountains just outside of Tucson, Ariz. Summers in this area of Arizona can be extremely hot and students often face outdoor temperatures in excess of 100 degrees at the beginning of the school year.
ABM Building Services had been providing custodial services to the Altar Valley School District for more than a year when it became aware of the HVAC, energy efficiency and budget concerns confronting the school. Foremost among them were new budget cuts, as last November voters rejected the renewal of a 10 percent maintenance and operations budget override that effectively lowered the school’s budget every year for the next seven years. This was to begin in the 2014-2015 school year with an estimated budget decrease of $147,000, meaning administrators were faced with the possibility of having to cut spending in art, physical education, and full-day kindergarten classes to charging in-state fees for sports participation or even the possibility of increasing class sizes across grade levels.
After six months of careful analysis, ABM found a way to implement more than $430,000 in facility upgrades using their bundled energy solutions program to completely fund energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements with money already in the district’s operating budget. In fact, the customized program is guaranteed to save more than $732,000 in energy and operating costs over the next 15 years.
“From inception to final completion this process has been an interesting and educational experience for me as the district's operation manager,” says Patrick Carano. “This project has been a great challenge for ABM. One element which stands out for me was the elimination of metered water used for our irrigation system. This undertaking consisted of using an existing well located at the school and re-routing the water to newly installed water lines, which are tied into the current infrastructure, accommodating water to irrigation system. The entire project was not an easy task to complete, but the outcome for the district is one which will result in substantial water savings for the district.”
Energy-efficiency improvements included installing a web-based, automated energy control system to better manage energy use, reduce repair costs to HVAC equipment and notify staff of problems as they arise at Robles Elementary, the district’s administration office and transportation buildings. ABM installed LED lighting in Robles Elementary School’s library and cafeteria. Also of significant benefit to the district are the HVAC equipment upgrades at Altar Valley Middle School’s library, the district’s administration office and transportation buildings. An abandoned well at Altar Valley Middle School was also restored to working order, enabling irrigation of campuses and athletic fields across the entire district. This one change alone provides annual savings of approximately $23,000.
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