Glencoe schools to vote on geothermal
A geothermal heating and cooling system would find 132 500-foot deep holes drilled north of the school building, but when the work was done, the site would still look pretty much as it did before, with all the holes covered over with grass. |Irv Leavitt~S
Updated: December 17, 2012 12:16PM
GLENCOE — Glencoe’s School Board will vote Nov. 12 on whether Central School should be heated and cooled with geothermal energy.
The members are likely to vote it up – a majority of the board spoke positively at a recent breakout meeting where all three facilities committee members backed it.
It won’t be green-lit until bids are returned on the estimated $4.5 million project.
“If the bids are six or seven million, it’s probably not going to happen,” district business director Jason Edelheit said Oct. 25.
That eventuality is unlikely, however, he said. In the year or so the concept has been discussed, the cost of setting up a geothermal system has dropped, amid more competition in the marketplace and more efficient methodology.
The cost could drop by as much as $1.7 million if board members opt to keep the Misner Auditorium’s old heating system. On the other hand, they would need to add about $285,000 to the price tag for asbestos abatement and remediation for areas of the school disturbed by the removal of old heating systems or the introduction of the new water loop-based one.
The geothermal project would be paid for out of a $5.4 million account, much of which is left over from 2009 working cash bonds. There are other claims to that account, starting with more than $500,000 to be paid on the final bills from last year’s remodeling at Central, 620 Greenwood Ave.
Other jobs on the horizon include partial refits of the also-aging climate- control systems at the other two schools, but neither of those are as needy as the current four separate systems at Central.
Neither include comprehensive air-conditioning, either.
Air-conditioning comes along with the geothermal system, which operates by using the earth’s natural heat, and soil’s capacity to insulate. Central’s system would require a network of 132 narrow, 500-foot deep holes drilled into the athletic field north of the school building.
Those holes would likely be drilled March 1 through June 1, with three or four drilling rigs operating at the same time – or over a two-year span.
Though the diesel-powered rigs are somewhat noisy, it wasn’t a problem for Belvidere, Ill., where Washington School went geothermal three years ago, according to City Clerk Shauna Arco and Deputy Police Chief Dave Ernest.
“Not a single complaint,” Ernest said Oct. 25. “The school is kind of out in the open, which may have something to do with it,b ut nobody said they had a problem.”
A test drilling at Central was similarly uneventful, Edelheit said.
“It was a lot less disruptive than I thought it would be,” he said.
Washington School’s district claims more than $60,000 annual savings in heating and cooling costs.