Update on heating and air conditioning improvements at MPS
 
A crane hoists a 20 ton "package unit" that provides both heating and air conditioning to Mustang Creek Elementary's gym. 


Heating and air-conditioning is a concern for every Oklahoma school as the doors open to students in the heat of August. Johnny Clark, maintenance manager, provided a run down on the improvements that have been put in place at Mustang Schools over the summer.

Thanks to voters and the passage of the February 2016 bond issue, the 20 ton "package unit" that provides both heating and air conditioning to Mustang Creek Elementary's gym has been replaced. Another 12 ton unit was replaced for the family and consumer sciences classroom at Mustang North Middle School. Hiring a contractor to handle the entire process for both units would have cost the district more than $64,000. Instead, Clark has an HVAC license and the district ordered the units and the cranes. Then, a contractor was hired to install the units. In all it cost less than $36,000 for the parts and labor to install both units. 

At Lakehoma Elementary, constructed in 1978, crews began installation of a new boiler and a cooling tower in the fall of 2015. Work was completed in the spring. The units, which run half the building's air conditioning and heating were a $250,000 replacement. The other half of the building has a fairly new cooling tower, but Clark said the district has quotes to replace the aging boiler. Another boiler is going in at the K building at MHS, one of the original buildings at Mustang High School. The new boilers, which cost around $40,000 each, will be paid for with funds from the 2016 bond issue.

"We also rebuilt the cooling tower at Creek Elementary for $18,000 versus $86,000 to install a new one. Also we partially rebuilt the chiller at Mustang Elementary for $10,000," Clark said. "A new chiller would run $150,000 just for the unit alone."

Other major improvements over the summer include installing variable frequency drives in many locations. Clark explained that if you have one unit that cools an entire wing, the motor is either on or off. The VFD allows the motors to run at the appropriate speed for the most cost efficient delivery of cooling to the area. Although the VFDs come with an upfront cost to install, that cost will be recouped in energy savings within a couple of years, he said.

Also, humidity problems have plagued the auditorium at Mustang High School, which was constructed in 1971. Crews installed not only the VFD, but a humidity sensor that will send out an alarm if humidity levels rise.

Crews have also been installing new temperature controls, which will lead to increased savings in energy costs. Thanks to the Smart Hours program and regulating building temperatures, the district paid $350,000 less in utility costs from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016.

Clark had three HVAC journeymen besides himself who coordinated the installation of new equipment, repair of existing equipment or upkeep such as filter replacement across the district over the summer. Despite all this, he knows there will be air conditioners that will fail when schools open and the August temperatures remain in the 90s.

"There will be air conditioners that break. If you look at the ages of many of our school buildings, in many areas we are faced with old equipment." he said. "Even newer buildings can have units go down."

When an air conditioner breaks in a building, if a replacement part is already on hand, the HVAC crew works to repair the unit that day If the part is available within driving distance, then they pick it up to fix the unit as quickly as possible. If the part is out of state, the district has assembled a surplus of portable air conditioners and fans to take to the affected school. There are other times when students are moved to another area of the building until the issue is fixed.

"Our HVAC crew is back up to four journeymen dedicated to keeping the air and heating systems up and running," he said. 'I would estimate that with the four guys, each will handle a minimum of five calls for service a day. With 13 schools sites, some made up of of multiple buildings, even with four there will be days when there will be wait times for some classrooms while my crews work to finish repairs on other units."

Overall, however, Clark is pleased with the progress the district has made over the summer.

"I'm excited for school to start," he said. "We are back to a crew of four, not including myself, with HVAC licenses. We have replaced some significant pieces of equipment over the summer which should make a difference. While we've made significant headway across the district with HVAC there is still a great deal more to do. HVAC appears on bond issues because that's the only way a district can handle that type of expense. We say it a lot, but we can't say enough for the voters who made many of these repairs and replacements possible over the summer."
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