Geothermal to be in 10 Schools across the District in Illinois

Pat Callahan, the district’s architect from Studio GC of Chicago, and the district’s newly hired capital projects manager Pat Dacy, presented a series of dates – from design and bid approval packages through October to the awarding of contracts early next year – for the conversion of campuses with the newer geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Dacy said they collaborated with general, mechanical and electrical contractors prior to preparing for the construction. They left a three-week period between the release of bid specifications and bid opening to allow for contractors to bid on multiple projects.

“We didn’t want to exclude the smaller contractors or big ones. By keeping the projects a certain size we feel that we have done that based on their input,” he told the School Board.

Dacy explained the schedule will further increase the chances of the district securing optimal pricing for the work. The discussion focused on installation of $6.5 million in geothermal borefields for 10 school campuses.

He said the pre-purchase of equipment, which includes an estimated 300 heat pumps for the geothermal installation, ensures they will be manufacture and stored in a warehouse and ready for delivery. That is another critical component of the construction schedule to ensure the projects are done on time.

West Aurora District 129 voters in April approved a $84.2 million building bond referendum to fund capital improvements, which include installing geothermal heating and cooling systems for 10 school buildings across the district, classroom additions at five schools and the building of a new Hill Elementary School.

The geothermal technology essentially is an alternative method for heating and cooling buildings that uses the constant ground temperature for energy savings. The size of the borefields will range in size from 44 to 562 boreholes depending on the size of the school buildings, each with depths of 400 feet into the ground.

Callahan said borefields will be in “optimal” locations near the respective school buildings without disturbing play areas or athletic fields.

He said neighboring residents would be notified prior to any drilling.

“There is going to be some disruption during the course of this construction, but it will occur when children are not outside for recess — roughly in November when sports programs are finished through the winter months,” Callahan said.

The district is poised to receive up to $4.9 million in Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds through Kane County and City of Aurora to help offset the cost of the geothermal project.

“It reflects what we told the community at the time of the referendum in that we were going to seek support. This is a significant step for that,” Board member Neal Ormond said of the financing.

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