The process of building the new community school building has forced the Fayette school board to make several difficult decisions. At Monday’s regular meeting it made another one.
The Buehrer Group architects gave the board three options for potential heating and cooling systems. By far, the most expensive option was to install a geothermal heating system, which would rely on the Earth’s constant temperature beneath the frost layer to warm the school in the winter and cool it in the summer.
However, once installed, geothermal would be the cheapest system to operate, and the most environmentally friendly.
Architects estimated it could cost as much as $500,000 to drill the required well field—a sum the district probably doesn’t have in its construction budget. But the board was wary of abandoning the idea too soon.
Terry Kovar voiced concern about the rising price of natural gas and a heating system that was too dependent on it. David Brinegar commented that he didn’t want to discard the idea until it was absolutely clear that the district couldn’t afford it. Kim Winzeler requested architects put a bid out on the project, just to see what numbers come back.
While it seems unlikely that enough funds to install the geothermal field will actually materialize, the board made a good decision in its tentative choice of a gas-powered heat pump system. With this equipment, the system could be converted to geothermal in the future without starting from scratch.
Board members made the decision with their feet in the present, but looking to the future. We hope they continue to do so.
– Jeff Pickell, May 17, 2006