Ramona Unified School District (RUSD) students are starting the new school year on a bright note thanks to LED lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades throughout their schools.
The lights and HVAC units are just two facets of the district's comprehensive infrastructure modernization program being implemented by Climatec, a provider of building technologies and energy solutions for the public sector. The energy conservation initiative also calls for Climatec to install solar PV systems at 10 sites; revitalize windows at Ramona Elementary School; and repave the parking lot at Ramona High School. So far, 95% LED light and approximately 50% of the HVAC unit installations are complete.
"The lights and smattering of HVAC units alone are huge upgrades for Ramona Unified," said RUSD Superintendent Theresa Grace. "They're keeping our classrooms bright, cool, and comfortable for our students and teachers during these last blistering months of summer."
The LED lights pose a stark contrast to RUSD's former fixtures, some of which took minutes to fully power on; conducted significant heat; and cast dim, sepia-toned light. Moreover, the district's dated heating and cooling units exceeded their lifetime by 15 to 20 years, creating significant energy expenditures and spikes to related costs.
For Grace, the LED lights and HVAC units are a taste of the benefits of the impending infrastructure enhancements that will improve the district's schools from the outside, in: "The board and I view this investment in our facilities as an investment in our students," she continued. "We wanted to create a comfortable environment that encourages and supports our students' learning and engagement with their teachers and peers. Because Climatec works with schools and other public agencies, the team understood our vision and knew how we could achieve it at a reasonable cost. I am thrilled with our partnership with Climatec and the enhancements they've made thus far, and look forward to what's in store."
In addition to installing the LED lights and HVAC units over the last few months, Climatec has been pursuing approval of its solar and window systems from the Division of the State Architect (DSA), a state requirement of California public K-12 schools and other state-owned and leased facilities for ensuring health and safety code and DSA standards are upheld.
The full energy conservation program, unanimously approved by the district's board of education on May 14, will save RUSD over $34 million in savings over the next 30 years. The savings nearly triple the expenditure of approximately $12.4 million, which the district funded, in part, with municipal lease and routine restricted maintenance account contributions. The environmental savings are equivalent to 3,073,239 kilowatt-hours saved, 430 cars off the road, 233,536 gasoline gallons saved, 61,465 trees preserved, and 307 American homes powered.
"We've already begun to hear positive feedback from Ramona Unified School District, which has made our team at Climatec all the more excited about offering these upgrades to students and staff," said Leo Salas, Climatec Project Manager for RUSD. "We're grateful to district trustees and Ramona Unified's community for giving Climatec the opportunity to spread modern technologies that are helping children learn, grow and thrive."
The remaining updates will be implemented over the next nine to 15 months with Climatec's work being done in the evenings and on weekends so as not to disrupt school.