Grain Valley School District – Grain Valley, Missouri

Lessons Learned on Cost, Comfort and Control

As the school system has grown, so has its facilities and the related energy and maintenance expenses.

When it was time to build a new Grain Valley middle school building, the school district's director of operations realized the facility needed HVAC that could provide a higher level of control than the mishmash of brands and units the district was currently using. Working with representatives of Lennox Industries, Sam Packham learned lessons that can benefit any school system:

Lesson 1: Choosing rooftop units with factory-installed unit controllers can dramatically reduce energy spending

Concerned about energy costs draining his district's budget, Packham chose high-efficiency, Lennox® premium rooftop units for the middle school installation. Each of the units featured an Integrated Modular Controller (IMC), which allowed for optimal control of the equipment as well as the easy installation of an energy management system.

The energy savings so exceeded Packham's expectations that he had 150 Lennox rooftop units installed across the district. Since then, Grain Valley has saved approximately 25 percent in combined electric and natural gas energy costs.

"We were impressed," Sam Packham explains. "The reduction in energy costs has been dramatic." A wide range of ENERGY STAR® qualified systems is available to help achieve superior energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort or productivity. Premium rooftop units from Lennox offer high efficiency ratings and the Integrated Modular Controller.

Lesson 2: School districts can control the costs of installation, service and maintenance – without sacrificing comfort and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

School maintenance costs are often significant, so the upkeep of the HVAC system is often one of the first casualties of a district's belt-tightening. That can have a detrimental effect on IAQ and the comfort of students and staff.

Choosing a system designed for service can reduce the associated costs without having a negative impact on the school environment. The Lennox rooftop units feature full-perimeter base rails for easier rigging and transporting, and large access panels that provide quick access to the compressor, refrigerant components and electrical controls to reduce service hours.

Tom Schafersman, Lennox' Midwest Commercial District Manager, notes that the units' diagnostic features were of particular interest to the district's operations officials, as they were designed to simplify diagnostics and troubleshooting with more than 200 preprogrammed control parameters. "The customer at Grain Valley had no prior experience with an integrated control system," Schafersman says.

"We installed the L Connection® Network energy management system ourselves, and Lennox walked us through the steps," Packham says. "The process went smoothly, and they made it very easy for us. There also haven't been any hidden or unnecessary charges." Optional BACnet® or LonTalk® capability also allows integration with third-party automation systems, if required.

Lesson 3: Planned replacement is often a cost-effective solution

Not long after the middle school building went into operation, Packham considered incorporating advanced HVAC systems throughout the rest of the school district. The other buildings' older equipment was still running, but wasn't efficient.

"The Grain Valley system had a ‘mishmash' of products," Schafersman says. "They had been using four or five different brands, depending on what was specified or which products came in at a low price during bidding. That was inefficient and sometimes made it difficult to get parts and service in a timely manner."

"We were impressed! The reduction in energy costs has been dramatic."

-Sam Packham

Grain Valley School District – Grain Valley, Missouri
Grain Valley School District – Grain Valley, Missouri

Packham says he started looking into options and found that replacing the older equipment was affordable: "The ease of installation and strong performance in the middle school building made the decision to replace all our HVAC units an easy one."

More than 150 premium Lennox rooftop units were installed, many of them as part of a planned replacement program. Multiple compressors provide efficient cooling with four-cooling-stage capability, while variable-frequency drives meet a wide range of zoning system needs. Humiditrol® dehumidification systems provide an efficient moisture removal system that keeps humidity levels under control.

Packham has been very pleased with the results, and so have other school officials.

Donna Peoples, Lennox' regional K–12 account manager, said upgrading with the Lennox rooftop units was part of a comprehensive plan to manage growth in all the district's operations, which has the full support of a superintendent committed to excellence.

"Dr. (Christopher) Small is involved in all aspects of education and in those areas that make education possible," Peoples said. "He's an extremely supportive superintendent, and he's totally involved in keeping the Grain Valley schools operating at the highest level."