The East Maine School District 63, located outside of Chicago, implemented extensive energy management measures that are in the process of providing an anticipated $1.4 million in savings over the next 10 years.
East Maine School District 63 students got a cool reception upon their return to school in the fall of 2002. After years of having no air conditioning systems in five of their seven schools, students and teachers alike were excited to be in rooms that were comfortable during late August's unpredictable temperatures, which on occasion can be exceedingly hot.

East Maine Consolidated School District is a public school district located in Cook County, IL, an affluent metropolitan area just 20 miles northwest of Chicago. The school district encompasses portions of five different communities - unincorporated Des Plaines, Niles, Glenview, Park Ridge, and Morton Grove. This K-8 district consists of six elementary schools (K-6), one junior high school (7-8) and the district head office with a student enrollment of approximately 3,600 students and growing.

‘An ideal partnership'

Local Teletrol Systems' Integrator, Control Engineering Corp. (CEC) and District 63 had an initial venture to service the existing controls system located within the seven buildings. Obsolete and inefficient, the existing system led the district to make the decision to consider a new BAS rather than to service the existing one. At the same time District 63 was busy negotiating with an energy management solutions provider. District 63 entered into a performance contract with the group to retrofit their existing system with a solution that would ultimately pay for itself through energy savings.

Together, CEC and the energy management solutions provider created a new partnership to transition District 63 into this complete retrofit program for the school system with energy management measures that included Internet-based monitoring, a new BAS, and overall HVAC improvements. Other measures, such as new building envelope systems (windows, doors, etc.), were also incorporated into the retrofit. The primary goal was to update five of the buildings to include A/C systems, replace chillers, boilers, and other HVAC components, and to install a new Internet-enabled controls system that would allow the school to easily manage each of the buildings from one central location as well as from each specific building.

The largest challenge faced was the exacting control of interior comfort levels. The system also had to be installed on a very strict schedule - all work was to be completed before the start of the new school year in fall. If the retrofits were not completed and functioning on time it could potentially require school closings and loss of funding.

The performance contract required that BAS products be used which met District 63's requirements. CEC chose to use Teletrol's eBuilding Internet-powered BAS, which would allow the district to take advantage of their existing WAN to control each school.

Facility maintenance staff are now able to monitor the buildings with the new IT-friendly controls system using Envoy, the facility site server that automatically communicates with network controllers to collect data, manage alarms, and provide remote Internet access. The server software includes an Apache Web server to provide Web access to point data, system information, and graphical operator information pages.

As a result, one PC workstation in each school now has access to a total of nine new eBuilding Network Controllers residing on the district's WAN, approximately 641 I/O points, 40 unitary controllers, the boiler/heating plant, chiller plant, rooftop systems, VFDs, fan powered boxes, DX system staging, electric heat staging, unit ventilators (full control, economizer, face and bypass, OA code ventilation), multizone fans, constant volume fans, and CO and CO2 alarming.

Remote access...and smiling faces

"It's an understatement to say that the new controls system is making life easier," said District 63's maintenance supervisor, Carlos Vega. "It has improved working conditions for all of my custodial staff, as well as for the teachers and students who are now enjoying new, consistent air conditioning during hot days. The biggest advantage, however, is the remote access that the new system provides from even outside the district. To be able to monitor and correct the system, as needed, from any browser window has been nothing short of a huge benefit."

Energy management measures are being implemented now that the system is up and running with a new semester under the district's belt and an anticipated $1.4 million in savings over the next 10 years. Working with school principals in each school to evaluate energy usage and comfort issues, District 63 now has a high-tech, efficient, and successful energy management program underway that will pay for itself both in dollars and in happy young faces. ES