Letter: New HVAC systems were always part of school capital plan

Posted 10/13/21

To the editor:

Dear Portsmouth voters,

A few people have raised questions as to “why now” for including new HVAC systems in the Portsmouth Schools Facilities Bond.

All of the …

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Letter: New HVAC systems were always part of school capital plan

Posted

To the editor:

Dear Portsmouth voters,

A few people have raised questions as to “why now” for including new HVAC systems in the Portsmouth Schools Facilities Bond.

All of the projects we are proposing form part of Portsmouth’s five-year capital plan. These projects have been vetted by industry experts, the district building committee, the community and the R.I. Department of Education. The proposed five-year capital plan has always included the HVAC system replacement at Melville and Hathaway. It is inaccurate to claim that we are moving this project forward to save 5 percent. 

While our systems have been maintained and currently meet the minimum guidelines, this is an opportunity to replace the aging systems, improve the health and well being of Portsmouth’s students and staff and take advantage of additional state funding to do so. HVAC equipment is only intended to last a certain amount of time and no matter how well-maintained, the efficiencies will decrease and there will be opportunities to improve system performance with new technologies that save energy and reduce operational expenses. 

The existing systems are beyond their useful life, and now is the time to improve the indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and operational costs for the future of Portsmouth. The new HVAC systems that are planned for Hathaway and Melville elementary schools utilize high-efficiency cooling systems, energy recovery, and humidity control systems, all integrated under a comprehensive building automation system that continues to use the boilers installed within the last year; a fiscally responsible move on the design team and district management. The anticipated useful life of the new systems should well exceed 20 years. The Portsmouth School Committee is committed to maintaining the highest environmental standards for students and staff members.

To conclude, the HVAC systems are at the end of their useful life. We will have to replace them soon anyway. Approving the bond now allows us to do so with a 40-percent discount as the money will be returned to the town after the projects are complete.

Emily Copeland

Chair, Portsmouth School Committee

25 Windstone Drive

Allen Shers

Chair, Capital Subcommittee

40 Roger Williams Court

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