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McKinstry, a national leader in designing, constructing, operating and managing high-performance buildings, announced that newly-completed energy improvement projects at Butte High School, located in Montana, coupled with prior retrofits, are projected to save more than $75,000 annually while improving the school’s learning environment.
As the energy services contractor selected by the Butte School District to audit, re-design and modernize the high school’s building systems, McKinstry’s Missoula- and Bozeman-based teams completed the latest improvements this month.
The final round of work entailed replacing the entire heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system within Butte High School’s 56,723-square-foot annex and administrative offices with a new variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, and revising and replacing heating control valves to allow the high school more precise control over heating and cooling.
Added energy savings will be achieved with the installation of heat recovery units that can simultaneously heat and cool different zones of the annex depending on the need. Students, teachers and staff gathering at the Butte High School counselor and attendance office will enjoy improved thermal comfort year-round.
“These improvements not only help Butte School District stretch its energy dollars, but will provide a healthier, more comfortable learning and working environment for all school occupants,” McKinstry Account Executve Daniel McGee said, account executive at “Thanks to the vision of superintendent Judy Jonart, business manager Dennis Clague, and high school principal John Metz, these projects became a reality and have had a positive impact to the district students, staff and community. We’re proud to provide such efficient and cost-effective solutions for Butte schools.”
Energy and utility costs generally account for 20-40 percent of a school’s maintenance and operations budget, and can be much higher if equipment is beyond its useful life. According to a recent U.S. Green Building Council report, factors like thermal comfort “affect the stress levels, health and well-being of occupants in schools,” and can influence student achievement.
“Prior to modernizing the school’s building systems, two neighboring classrooms could experience a temperature difference of 20 degrees or more. Now, we’re keeping classrooms heated and cooled consistently as needed, while circulating a healthy level of fresh air,” Butte School District Head of maintenance Jed Hoopes said. “The annex building is where shop class and home economics are taught. It’s also where we keep the computer lab. Adequate cooling here was a high priority.”
The latest round of retrofits marks the third phase of work completed at Butte High School by McKinstry since 2010, during which 85 percent of the building’s mechanical and plumbing systems were replaced. Grants provided by the Montana Department of Commerce, coupled with district funding, have covered $2.65 million in project expenses. Future energy savings were also used to add scope to the projects.
Butte School District and McKinstry first partnered in 2009 on an energy audit of Butte High School, which led to state grant and district funding for replacing the 1968-era boiler plant in the annex building and the installation of digital energy controls in the four-story academic building – both of which were completed between 2010 and 2012. The new boiler is 20 percent more efficient.
In 2013, energy and operational savings from previous projects were leveraged to build out additional administration space in the annex with file-storage areas.