GMUSD board hears further details of energy audit findings Will look at prioritizing needs for a future bond issue

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Last Tuesday night, the board of the Green Mountain Unified School District held a special meeting to begin looking at the long list of projects that came out of an “energy audit” conducted by Energy Efficient Investments or EEI over the past two years.

EEI’s Mike Davey making a presentation to the GM board on Oct. 5

EEI had presented the results of the audit at the board’s Sept. 16 meeting outlining a number of projects in the districts three schools – Green Mountain High and Cavendish Town and Chester-Andover elementaries – with a total cost of $29 million. Click here to see a copy of that list.

Mike Davey of EEI told the board that they were facing “major end of life issues” with the Green Mountain building, which was constructed in the early 1970s. Davey pointed to the “unit ventilators” that provide heat and ventilation for each classroom, saying that these were not efficient and are built into the windows – many of which are single layers of glass with asbestos caulk. He said the choices are to do nothing, replace the existing ventilators with new or abandon them and install a duct system for the school.

Board chair Joe Fromberger asks Davey to group together the expenses associated with each of the major projects

Noting that a school the size of Green Mountain would be required to have sprinklers if it was built today, Davey said that opening the ceilings and installing ducts would be the opportunity to install them. He also said that that level of renovation might also trigger the fire marshal to require the sprinkler installation.  And there are other costs including window replacement and millwork to replace the ventilators that are built into the classroom cabinets.

Davey and EEI are presenting these choices for substantial work for the board to figure out what level of work (and expense) they feel comfortable with. He said that while Bennington and Vergennes schools went for the higher-end ducted systems, Mill River opted for replacing their unit ventilators. He also said that if the board wanted to continue to look at this, it would be the first of many meetings to weigh the choices.

The discussion of Green Mountain took up over an hour in the meeting, which was scheduled to run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and board chair Joe Fromberger asked Davey to push through the lists for the elementary schools in the remaining time.

Davey said that Cavendish Town Elementary was in pretty good shape and that Chester-Andover has some issues, but not at the order of magnitude as in the high school.

Mike Davey, left, explains the workings of a 50-year-old ventilator to board member Josh Schroeder, center, as GM’s Todd Parah looks on

Fromberger asked Davey to provide a list of the items in the overall budgets that would be associated with each of the major items. For example, what additional costs would be incurred by choosing a new ducted heating system and what costs would be incurred by replacing the unit ventilators with new, updated models? That includes what energy savings could be realized by each.

No date was set for the next meeting although Davey suggested if the board wanted to be prepared to put a bond vote on the March Town Meeting warning, the sooner the meeting, the better. The next meeting on the audit and recommended upgrades and new construction will be on Monday, Oct. 25 via Zoom and at the Green Mountain Library. The Telegraph will post an agenda when it becomes available.




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