6 Features Your Building Systems Need to Pass the Next School Bond

Your 30-year old heating and cooling system is taking up more and more of your facility team’s time to keep running. It’s past time to consider its inevitable replacement. The cost of shutting down school to fix a chiller, air handling unit, or boiler is not in the budget. The district is ready to pass a bond and is willing to include 20% for mechanical upgrades. Before you start rallying the community around a bond issue, you must consider how you are going to sell the value of your facility upgrades and rally support from your board and community. You must also be prepared to safeguard your budget. When your upgrade project starts to creep overbudget, facility equipment is the first to suffer because its effects are not visible to the public.

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Build “value engineering” into your budget by finding ways to spend less on mechanical systems without sacrificing functionality. Value engineering is the review of products during the design phase to reduce costs and increase functionality to increase the value of the product. If you purchase a piece of high quality equipment, you can reduce other parts of the budget as a result. For example, if you are purchasing for longevity and product support, your Total Cost of Ownership should be reduced because you can plan to spend less on maintenance, replacement parts and service.

A school bond financially affects the local community, so proposing the purchase of systems without explaining their worth, both financial and tangible, could hurt your chances of it passing. Stewarding community and district funds is daunting, but when you are choosing facility equipment that really is best for students and staff, you have the tools you need to craft a winning message. Your strategy should be two part: selecting facility systems that produce the most benefit to students and staff and then effectively communicating those system’s value to the public from a relatable angle. 

What attributes do facility equipment like building automation systems, HVAC equipment, and fire and security systems need to encompass to truly be the best for your building’s occupants? And what is the best way to communicate these benefits externally? Share comfort and health benefits. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children spend 90% of their time indoors, the majority of that time spent in school. Schools in exemplary physical condition report improved academic performance while schools with fewer janitorial personnel and higher maintenance backlogs report poorer academic performance. In fact, a study of the costs and benefits of energy efficient equipment in K-12 schools in Washington State estimated a 15% reduction in absenteeism and a 5% increase in test scores.

The facility systems you select play an enormous role in the quality of your education. Your community will gladly vote yes for facility upgrades that benefit their children, especially when you can prove the tangible benefits to learning.

When it comes to building systems, here are the six most important features your systems need to build comfortable and healthy environments. These items should make it easy to prove your district is being a good steward of public funds for its infrastructure.

  1. Flexibility
    To accommodate student schedules and after-school activities, you need systems that will fit your unique needs. Not only do you need individual spaces heated and cooled at different temperatures, you need the flexibility to keep certain parts of your facility running for various times and numbers of people. Your equipment should be able to create comfortable spaces for any need by its ability to handle different loads, whether it’s gym class for eight hours or a 3-hour basketball practice for 10 people. You should also be looking for equipment that will run both heating and cooling efficiently, monitoring the environment to maintain temperature to prevent discomfort or distraction.

  2. Quiet Operation
    Your job is to maintain environments conducive to learning, but a noisy heating and cooling system is disruptive. Choose HVAC equipment that has industry-leading sound levels to keep students focused on what’s important. The highest efficiency modulating compressors tent to be a little noisy. In your project’s design phase, be sure to place your energy efficient equipment away from classrooms and insulate it.
  1. Safety
    School violence has only increased over the past several years, and both students and parents are feeling the uneasiness associated with it. When staff and students are on campus, you are responsible for their wellbeing. Why not keep them the safest they can be with state-of-the-art fire and security systems?

    Install a security system in your school that will protect your students and faculty, increase their sense of protection and get help to them fast in the event of an emergency. You can't always prevent violence, but you can decrease the odds that it will happen at your school and help protect your students if it does. This doesn’t only mean having access controls, but a holistic safety plan that includes video surveillance and automation that integrates with your access controls. The community will resonate with the urgency to upgrade outdated security systems to keep their loved ones safer.

    Find a provider that can help you plan a fire-safety plan, check all requirements and deliver regular testing and maintenance to keep everything in compliance. Implement cutting-edge systems that, for example, connect directly to the fire station or panic alarms that communicate with the police force. These products bring a faster response time to emergencies with little more than the press of a button.
  1. Efficiency
    Not only should you expect your facility equipment to run, providing comfort to its occupants, it should deliver a return on investment. By upgrading to more energy efficient equipment, your upgrades could pay for themselves in the long-term, especially when properly maintained and controlled.

    In 2016, Hays Middle School in Hays, Kansas used community funds to add a 21-square foot gymnasium and upgrade an antiquated boiler/chiller system with AAON Equipment. Their utility bills did not increase. Learn more about their stories now: https://bldgcontrols.com/hays-middle-school-usd.
  1. Controlling and Monitoring
    To enhance efficiency and increase the profitability of your facility equipment, it is essential to implement a Building Automation System to integrate and control all building systems as efficiently as possible, all in one place.

    Building Automation Systems improve efficiency by reducing the power used during off-hours automatically. They monitor temperatures during the day and adjust to keep things comfortable at reduced power output levels. Additionally, they can tie into your security system and keep access to your buildings under tight control.
  1. Longevity
    You’re using the community’s money to upgrade your facility, so you want to purchase equipment that is built to last with the highest quality materials, most innovative and efficient features with a strong reputation.

    Investing in the best facility systems that come with built-in organizational support like service, maintenance and compliance testing and then effectively promoting your plan to the community, in terms of improved educational standards will earn you unprecedented support for your next bond issue.

Contact us for your bond issue facility system needs- our equipment checks all the boxes. We’ll help you find the best way to communicate with local constituents to get the vote.

Sources:

More information about the affects of a healthy environment on students here: https://www.epa.gov/schools/impact-performance-and-health-schools

More about Value Engineering: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/value-engineering.asp

 

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