Community expectations for academic excellence run high at Glenbrook High School District 225, which consistently ranks among the top public schools in Illinois and among the nation’s highest-rated districts for academic achievement.

Established in 1953, Glenbrook High School District 225 has earned high marks on the national academic achievement scale.

Two campuses, Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South, serve a total student population of over 4,000 students with over 430 faculty, staff members, and administrators. School officials decided in 1999 to redraft their facilities master plan to expand and update their two campuses serving the 36 square miles of Glenview and Northbrook villages. This time, however, the operative words were “creative financing.” The reason: the district had aggressive plans to pour at least $60 million worth of improvements into the system’s facilities over the next two years.

Dr. Craig Shilling, Glenbrook’s assistant superintendent for business affairs, explains that one of the keys to implementing such an enormous amount of work was a performance contract for between $6 million to $8 million in energy-related improvement measures. Initially, he reasoned, this type of work could be used to “jump-start” the master plan initiatives by providing the financial impetus for the initial phases.

Getting Started

Following a competitive bidding process that involved five different suppliers, Siemens Building Technologies (Buffalo Grove, IL) was awarded the contract. Beginning with a thorough site analysis of both Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South campuses, Siemens developed a comprehensive, fast-track program designed to meet the district’s specific needs.

The Siemens solution was a two-phase, 10-year, $8.6 million performance contract that involved energy conservation and facility improvement measures to improve indoor comfort, air quality, and lighting levels in over 1 million sq ft of school facilities. The contract was divided into two, 60-day implementation phases one year apart, that would coincide with the district’s educational calendar and allow the majority of the work to be done during summer vacation when the facilities were largely unoccupied.

Phase I of the contract addressed the Glenbrook North Campus needs, while Phase II addressed the Glenbrook South campus requirements. Specific measures included a centralized, campus-wide building automation system (bas), retrofitting of numerous lighting fixtures to high-efficiency models, major window and door replacements for improved comfort and insulation, a new chiller plant, extensive hvac technologies, and technical support services. Siemens also provides electricity and gas procurement consulting services for the duration of the ten-year contract.

Shilling knew he also wanted a common bas for district-wide facility control and monitoring. Standardizing on one system provided facility managers with centralized control and reduced costs, and no redundant training requirements.

Energy Procurement, Management

Under the contract, it is Siemens’ duty to screen energy service providers, review proposals, negotiate rates, and essentially buy the district’s energy competitively on the open market. “It’s comforting to know we have an experienced, major player on our side when we go to buy energy,” Shilling confides. “Public schools simply don’t have the resources on staff to perform that function well.”

Glenbrook schools will benefit measurably from the procurement services because the contract targets a 10% savings on energy purchases in the first year.

To ensure smooth and timely completion of each phase, the district’s facilities planning team comprised professionals from both schools, including associate principals, plant operators and engineers, as well as the directors of operations and business affairs, architects, third-party engineers, and Siemens professionals. This, according to Bill Babington, associate principal for Glenbrook North, was crucial.

“When we say the work needs to be done by August 15, there is no latitude. Students are coming back to class, and we cannot wait. This was a concern for us, because the amount of work for Phase I was huge in view of the 60-day timeframe, particularly the window replacements. But, Siemens was very flexible.

They laid out the complete schedule for us and stuck to it,” said Babington. One improvement strategy that proved to be a key contributor to both student comfort and energy savings was the application of variable-air volume (vav) technology. “By replacing many window a/c units with new chillers and greater overall airflow, we gain considerably more control, and the students have a more comfortable environment,” said Jim Quinn, plant operator for Glenbrook North High School.

With the chiller plant replacement, which was integrated into the bas and included the installation of two new 550-ton chillers, two new cooling towers, and other related equipment, the district was able to address and resolve its previous Freon issue in terms of compliance with regulations.

Maintaining Facilities

Quinn says that the measures also help the district to address its deferred maintenance issues because tending to both campuses by the plant operations staff will be much more efficient.

“We expect that the Siemens building automation system and the overall improvement measures will help us get ahead of maintenance issues, rather than trying to catch up. Computerized maintenance management will also play a key role in improving our performance,” he said.

Siemens also manages the savings guarantee consistent with the contract by preparing an annual report documenting the post-retrofit project savings which is interpreted and reviewed with school officials.

“What we get out of these improvements is a first-class educational environment for the kids. And the best part is, we’re financing these improvements ourselves, directly out of the savings generated by the improvement measures. We’re essentially plowing any savings we get back into our facilities and into the master plan. That, in turn, helps us to do even more for the kids,” Schilling said.

The savings of the improvements for Phase I alone, in terms of operations, capital, and energy, are guaranteed to generate nearly $800,000 annually, for a total of over $7.95 million within the 10-year period.

Adds Babington, “As a result of these improvements, the hvac control schemes are more efficient, so we have fewer complaints about space heating and cooling. With a more comfortable teaching environment, we’re better able to focus on the students and on our core responsibilities.” ES