Upgrades make Knob schools greener

March 29, 2013

The Knob Noster R-VIII School District recently became a little greener, and it had nothing to do with spring.

The district, with the help of Navitas, an Olathe, Kan., based resource services company that specializes in energy-efficient projects, completed a green energy initiative that will cut annual energy costs by about 20 percent, saving the district $50,000.

Green has been the energy buzzword for a few years, but the decision to upgrade the district’s facilities was not made as a way to follow the crowd. On the contrary, the district fell into the greener energy movement out of necessity.

The deterioration of 56 of the district’s 95 rooftop heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units drove the decision, said Knob Noster School District Superintendent Jaret Tomlinson.

“(The units) were past their life cycle,” he said.

According to Koby Kampschroeder, Navitas’ director of business development, the “useful life” of HVAC units is about 12 to 15 years. He estimated the district’s units were up to 20 years old.

The initiative also brought upgrades to gymnasium lighting and a computerized temperature control system.

“The computerized system allows for the monitoring of the system’s electrical use, as well as the monitoring of savings on a daily basis,” Kampschroeder said.

According to Tomlinson, the district took bids from three companies, but the decision to work with Navitas was a fairly easy one.

“Navitas had the most complete bid and they were the only bid that included a solar component,” he said.

“Solar panels were placed on the three school buildings that are located within the city (of Knob Noster),” Tomlinson said.

According to Tomlinson, the energy received from just the solar panel on the high school building is enough to power all of the district’s support buildings, such as the bus barn, weight room and sports field concession stands.

While some districts take out loans to pay for similar green initiative projects, Kampschroeder said the Knob Noster district used capital funding.

“The project cost about $1.2 million, but we expect it to pay for itself over the next 15 years,” Tomlinson said.