Like most large school districts, Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) has many facilities of different ages, spread out throughout the district – each with its own controls for heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC), lighting and more. Maintaining and operating these 32 different facilities was not only difficult, it also was expensive. Additionally, scheduling disparate systems to run only when buildings were occupied – such as during school hours, sports events and parent-teacher conferences – was nearly impossible.
To reduce energy consumption, enhance learning environments and improve overall operations, CRCSD wanted a single automation platform from which all 32 facilities’ mechanical systems could be controlled.
CRCSD Had Been Told That District-Wide ControlSystems Integration Couldn’t Be Done without replacing all of the existing systems.
Enter Baker Group.
After learning about Baker Group’s proven experience with multi-building system automation, CRCSD was finally on its way toward having a single, district-wide platform that would deliver the desired benefits, and more.
Based on CRCSD’s stated needs, in 2013 Baker Group developed and launched its integration strategy. The first step was to install Tridium’s Niagara Framework, which has the capability to connect many different components, operating systems and applications into a single platform.
With this network in place, Baker Group began transitioning buildings to the new central control system. The highest energy users – three high schools and a middle school – were first to be connected. This priority was established based on the results of a district-wide energy study sponsored by Alliant Energy and conducted by Michael’s Energy.
“Instead of replacing a building’s existing controls, we were able to use those. This extends equipment life and saves the district a lot of money,” says Daryld Karloff, Executive Vice President of Baker Group.
The Niagara Framework also includes alarm capabilities, which alerts designated personnel to equipment malfunctions. “The system tells them exactly what piece of equipment is affected. This allows maintenance personnel to respond to emergencies faster, often before others even know there was a problem,” says Karloff.
Although it will be some time before all CRCSD’s buildings are connected to the integrated network, those now on the network are already averaging over 11 percent in energy savings.
Additional Energy Savings + Rapid Payback
The successful and ongoing systems integration earned Baker Group the opportunity to play a major role in an additional energy-saving initiative for the School District.
“The energy study provided a long list of building-by-building recommendations,” says Karloff. “We worked with Alliant Energy and Michael’s Energy to evaluate the anticipated cost and payback of each one, and then presented the list to the School District.”
CRCSD opted to proceed with all recommendations having a payback of five years or less. Implemented in five phases, this $1.8 million energy-reduction project was completed in December 2016.
“This additional effort saves the School District another $500,000 annually. At that rate, the payback will occur in less than four years,” Karloff adds.
Baker Group Supports Other CRCSD “Green” Efforts
“Since the beginning of our relationship with the School District, Baker Group has had a seat at the table with the district-wide Energy Team,” adds Karloff.
“We also are proud to sponsor CRCSD’s student-run ‘Green Teams,’ which enhance sustainability by finding ways to reduce water and energy consumption, and improve recycling efforts in their building. This is an excellent learning tool that pays great dividends for the District,” he says.