BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County school board has formally approved more than $5 million in energy efficiency upgrades in the schools countywide.
The work includes a complete redo of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at a school in the far eastern end of the county that has had what a school officials called an unrelated bat guano issue remediated.
The board at Monday night’s meeting voted 7-0 to approve the final project acceptance of the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative (EESI) with Energy Systems Group.
During an Oct. Oct. 3 work session, the board got an update on the EESI and ESG work.
Totaling more than $5 million and projected to pay back the initial investment over just less than 10 years, Russ Nelson of ESG told the board that most of the upgrades centered around HVAC.
Holston Valley Middle School got new HVAC and a new electrical system to support it, while Weaver Elementary got replacement of a coal boiler with a propane one and Central Heights Elementary got HVAC replacement.
In addition, Sullivan North High got six HVAC units replaced, South High three and the Central High gym new HVAC to replace failed heating and nonexistent air conditioning. Swimming pools also have efficiency upgrades, and control and measurement of utilities was improved, he said.
The EESI loan at .75 percent over 12 years saved the system about $1 million in interest compared to current market loan rates, Nelson said.
An issue at Holston Valley Middle, which basically had no HVAC or ventilation system in parts of the building, has been bat guano in the roof area of the gym.
Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said the ESG work had absolutely not connection with the “30 years of guano” removed from a roof, with a concrete floor between the attic area and the dropped ceiling area where the HVAC vents were installed.
Harry Farthing, UniServe coordinator for the Tennessee Education Association in Northeast Tennessee, said some teachers and students have complained of breathing issues after the HVAC project. Nelson told the board Oct. 3 that air quality tests at the school turned up no problems.
Yennie said that was based on outside testing of air quality and that with the new HVAC system, the air quality in the building likely is better than ever.