Glencoe schools to vote on geothermal
If the District 35 School Board agrees to convert Central School to geothermal energy, up to 132 500-foot holes would be drilled 500 feet deep in its back yard. |Photo Illustration by Lenore Krasner, Sun-Times Media, with graphic materials provided by Google Satellite and the schoil district
Updated: February 12, 2013 3:52PM
GLENCOE — A school board vote Dec. 10 may propel Central School toward becoming the first Chicago-area public school heated and cooled with geothermal energy.
It may not, however, change the school’s big assembly hall’s status as a place to dress lightly in spring and warmly in winter.
“I’m really worried about the asbestos in Misner, (and whether) there are going to be some hidden costs there,” Superintendent Cathlene Crawford fretted at a recent board session.
Board members are likely to decide Dec. 10 whether to leave the majestic old Misner Auditorium out of the plans, which, by latest estimate, would save almost $500,000. The entire asbestos remediation has been estimated at $285,000, but Crawford is concerned that as walls and floors are disturbed in the old theater, costs could balloon.
The project is estimated to cost the district $4.7 million – $4.5 million without Misner – less at least $175,000 in government grants.
A conventional system would cost about $4.4 million, $4 million without the auditorium.
A consultant estimated that the extra expense for building in geothermal energy would all be made up in two years through cheaper fuel bills.
“I vote for doing the whole thing,” Central Principal Ryan Mollett remarked earlier this fall, in a Board/staff working session, receiving appreciative laughter but no support for including Misner.
Recently, architect Colin Marshall told the board that it would be possible to add the auditorium to the project later, knowing that it doesn’t jump out as a priority.
“It’s a historic space, but it’s not used much academically,” he noted.
There have been calls in the past to use the old auditorium as a part-time public theater, but that would likely require more changes than just better heating and cooling, officials say.
Crawford noted that it would be hard to back a Misner environmental refit, when West School, for instance, also has aging systems and isn’t air-conditioned at all.
Other upcoming decisions involve the time set aside to drill the 132 500-foot-deep holes in the athletic field north of the school building. The entire area would have to be blocked off behind an 8-foot fence, probably between March 1 and June 1. There could be about 10 percent fewer holes without the auditorium as part of the project.
As for the building refit, that would be done during the summer only, for safety’s sake. So far, no guarantees that it could all get done in a single season.
“Ideally, it would be great to do it all at one time,” School Board President Nancy Shaw said.