Glencoe D.35 inches forward on geothermal project
Glencoe School Board President Nancy Shaw.| Irv Leavitt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 15, 2012 11:15PM
GLENCOE — The Glencoe District 35 School Board unanimously authorized preparation of bid documents Monday night for a geothermal power conversion for Central School’s heating and air-conditioning.
That action does not mean the project will necessarily move forward. It could be stopped if bids balloon beyond the total estimated price tag of $4.5 to $4.8 million.
That’s not expected, however, since big construction jobs are hard for contractors to find nowadays, and geothermal is getting easier as technologies and methods advance.
Monday’s vote also doesn’t indicate when the job might be finished, if eventually approved. There’s a growing movement among district leaders toward doing it over two seasons, instead of one, which seemed to be the earlier direction. That will be decided in future sessions.
Neither does it indicate whether the attached Misner Auditorium will be included in the project, though that possibility advanced Monday.
Consulting architect Colin Marshall told School Board members that the estimates of extra costs tied to adding the auditorium have shrunk.
The basic job with Misner is $4.5 million. Without it: $4.3 million.
Asbestos abatement estimated cost with Misner: $327,000. Without it: $282,000.
Marshall suggested that no matter which way they decide to go on Misner, they should drill enough 500-foot deep geothermal holes in the athletic field to support an eventual addition of the theater.
Board members Marc Glucksman and Eddie Chez wanted to know exactly how many holes would be needed for Misner, but Marshall said that was beside the point.
“We would not want to come back to drill eight wells, 10 wells,” he said.
“Unless you’re really looking to save $25,000 ... this will give you flexibility in the future.”
Marshall suggested the board ask for alternative bids, with and without Misner, for the in-building part of the project, but if they really have no intention of doing Misner, they shouldn’t ask about it.
A single version of the job would likely bring more bidders with lower bids, he said, because “it’s easier to bid, and easier to accomplish.”
The Misner possibility remained alive, at least for now.
For the first time publicly, the Glencoe architect said the project should be done in two phases. The first, in 2013, would include the well-drilling and all the new plumbing and equipment for about two-thirds of the building at 620 Greenwood Ave. Geothermal air-conditioning and heating could start a couple of weeks into the 2013-2014 school year.
The second phase, in 2014, would add the pipes and heating equipment to the 1967 wing of the building, with everything on line in the fall of 2014.
The drilling would be done from May 19 until Aug. 16, 2013, and the holes connected to underground pipes by Sept. 6. The field would be restored by Oct. 18.
Board President Nancy Shaw suggested that drilling start a few weeks later to avoid disturbing students at the end of the year.
That would be “pushing the envelope” in the attempt to get the system partially on-line after the end of the summer, Marshall said.
But from there, it was easy to start pondering splitting the drilling into two years, though that would probably mean none of the new system could start until 2014.
If the project were split over two years, it would likely cost 2 or 3 percent more, Marshall said, but in the present favorable bidding environment, he expected that difference to disappear.
Business Manager Jason Edelheit said if costs stay in line, there will be enough money to spend about $83,000 to upgrade the window air-conditioners at South and West schools.
Both Chez and audience member Laurie Morse, of the Glencoe (Village) Sustainability Working Group, asked about the noise that might be generated by the all-day drilling of two or three rigs. Marshall said he’d been talking about that with the village, and he and Edelheit would have more answers in the future.
On Tuesday, Glencoe Public Works Director David Mau said the work, like all construction, could only be done between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
“We have had geothermal installed on a half dozen residential sites, and ... the noise level is no different than a hydraulic excavator,” such as a backhoe, he said. “We have not had a complaint, and they have been in closer proximity (to homes) than this will be.” ~.