In May 2023, the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education approved an $11 million energy efficiency bond to pay for several projects across the district to reduce energy and water consumption.
Trane Technologies is spearheading work across the district related to the bond, which is expected to continue through 2024 and result in improvements at almost every district building. Many of the projects will not be apparent to those in the building. Trane is a certified ESCO agent. An energy service company (ESCO) provides a broad range of energy solutions including designs and implementation of energy savings projects, retrofitting, energy conservation, energy infrastructure outsourcing, power generation, energy supply, and risk management.
School districts are allowed to go out for energy efficiency bonds without voter approval, so long as the expected savings from the improvements will be able to repay the cost of the bond. The district has done this type of bonding in the past.
Find more information about the expected projects below. See a list of projects by school. Note projects are subject to change as work progresses.
Switching to LED lights
One of the biggest projects will be to replace fluorescent and other lighting in most of the district’s buildings with more efficient LED lights. Thousands of light fixtures will be either completely replaced with LED fixtures or retrofitted to use LEDs. A few areas are excluded from the work such as closets, theatrical lights, and stadium fixtures. All of the outgoing fluorescent bulbs and fixtures will be property disposed of.
Lighting work started in the summer of 2023 at Fordson High School. Replacements are expected to continue across the district through December 2024, with crews working evening and weekend hours and on days schools are off.
Buildings slated to get new LED lights include: Becker Elementary, Cotter Early Childhood Center, Geer Park Elementary, Henry Ford Elementary, Haigh Elementary, Howard Elementary, Lindbergh Elementary, Long Elementary, Maples Elementary, McDonald Elementary, Miller Elementary, Nowlin Elementary, River Oaks Elementary, William Ford Elementary, Bryant Middle, O.L. Smith Middle, Stout Middle, Woodworth Middle, Lowrey K-8, McCollough-Unis K-8, Dearborn High, Edsel Ford High, Fordson High, Transportation, and all the programs at the Dearborn Heights Campus.
DuVall Elementary, Oakman Elementary, Snow Elementary, and Whitmore-Bolles Elementary will also get new LED lights installed. That work is being coordinated with a larger project to install air-conditioning at those buildings, which also meant tearing down ceilings in most of the building to install ductwork.
Salina Elementary and Salina Intermediate already mostly use LED lights, but the remaining eligible lights will be converted to LED through the project.
Building envelope refers to the layer between inside and outside air. Energy conservation measures (ECM) on the envelope means reducing the amount of outside air seeping into the building, which should reduce heating costs.
Twenty-eight buildings will get envelope work as needed under the efficiency bond. Work will include improving weatherstripping and seals on exterior and interior doors, replacing air-conditioning covers, caulking door frames, sealing roof to wall joint seams, sealing roof hatches, sealing around overhead doors, and sealing or caulking around piping, doors and windows.
Building envelope work will be performed at the Administrative Service Center, Becker Elementary, Bryant Middle, Cotter Early Childhood Center, Dearborn Heights Campus, Dearborn High, Edsel Ford High, Fordson High, Geer Park Elementary, Haigh Elementary, Henry Ford Elementary, Howard Elementary, Lindbergh Elementary, Long Elementary, Lowrey K-8, Maples Elementary, McCollough Unis K-8, McDonald Elementary, Miller Elementary, Nowlin Elementary, O.L. Smith Middle, Operations, River Oaks Elementary, Salina Elementary, Salina Intermediate, Stout Middle, Transportation, William Ford Elementary, and Woodworth Middle.
Energy conservation window film will be installed on a total of 272 windows at O.L. Smith and Stout Middle School.
Efficiency work will go beyond energy to include reducing water consumption, particularly in several of the district’s kitchens. This work includes replacing dish sprayers, prep sink faucets, and hand washing stations with more water efficient models. Prep sinks will also have foot controls added for the sinks.
Buildings slated for this work include Dearborn High, Edsel Ford High, Fordson High, Michael Berry Career Center, Bryant Middle, Lowrey, McCollough-Unis, Salina Intermediate, O.L. Smith Middle, Stout Middle, Woodworth Middle, Cotter Early Childhood Center, Henry Ford Elementary, William Ford Elementary, Geer Park Elementary, Haigh Elementary, Howard Elementary, Lindbergh Elementary, Long Elementary, Maples Elementary, Miller Elementary, and Salina Elementary.
Edsel Ford High, Fordson High and Becker Elementary will have work performed to improve building controls. The new controls will help existing equipment such as boilers and air handlers perform more efficiently. The systems also provide critical alarms that will send emails and/or text messages to the appropriate district staff if a problem is detected in the building.
For Becker Elementary, the work will include updating controls on exhaust fans, unit heaters, isolation valves and radiant panel valves.
Fordson High and Dearborn High are slated to have new control systems added in their boiler rooms to help integrate different efficiency functions. The final scope of work at each school will depend on project costs and available funds. Fordson will also see extensive work on several air-handling units including damper replacements, control upgrades and sensor replacements.
Edsel Ford High will have controls updated in the boiler rooms and on air-handling units, heating and ventilation systems, unit ventilators, cabinet heaters, air dampers, hot water heaters and more. In related work, Edsel Ford High will also see additional work related to its hot water heating system to replace the pneumatic control system with new control valves. Outside and return air dampers will also be upgraded including installing new air dampers into existing openings.
Salina Intermediate is receiving repairs on its HVAC system to improve its operation and efficiency.
Steam trap repairs
Hundreds of steam traps across the district will also be replaced. Steam traps are critical parts of the radiator heating system used in most of the district’s schools. The devices allow condesant (water) and air to be released from the system while keeping the steam used for heating. Improperly working steam traps make the heating system less efficient and could lead to equipment damage.
As part of the bond work, Trane will test steam traps in ten buildings and generate a report on exactly which ones need to be replaced or repaired. If more steam traps need repaired than those included in the report, then Trane will prioritize the traps that will generate the greatest annual savings. Estimated steam trap replacements include:
- Fordson High – estimated 25 percent (97 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 387 traps
- Dearborn High – estimated 25 percent (25 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 100 steam traps
- Edsel Ford High – estimated 25 percent (25 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 100 steam traps
- Salina Intermediate – estimated 25% (75 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 300 traps
- Woodworth Middle – estimated 25% (56 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 229 traps
- Henry Ford Elementary – estimated 25% (29 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 116 traps
- Lindbergh Elementary – estimated 25% (25 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 100 traps
- Lowrey Elementary – estimated 25% (108 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 430
- Maples Elementary – estimated 25% (47 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 186 traps
- McDonald Elementary – estimated 25% (38 traps to be repaired/replaced) failed traps out of 152 traps
Pool water treatment
The last class of work to be performed under the energy efficiency bond will be to install FlowTech chemical free water treatment systems for several school pools. The system will increase the effectiveness of existing water filtration systems and result in an overall reduction in the amount of chemicals needed to maintain pool clarity.