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How a School’s Broken Boiler Created Millions in Savings

When they first met with Schneider Electric, Lakeland Union High School officials needed to replace a single boiler system. However, as they explored their options, they gained insight into the breadth of solutions available. Administrators learned how innovative technologies could not only take care of the critical heating issue, but also allow them to check off items on a lengthy wish list of additional classroom comfort improvements.  

The learning environment was of utmost importance to these administrators, yet a lack of funding and clear solutions had limited their ability to take action for years.

With a facility built in 1957, new technology was sorely needed. Two different boilers and four different HVAC systems meant classroom temperatures varied widely and were no longer providing an optimal environment. In addition, several other key building systems responsible for classroom comfort were nearing the end of their useful life.

A comprehensive solution creates an ideal learning environment

Schneider Electric designed a solution that made improvements to the building automation systems, air-handling units, boilers, electrical systems and building envelope. Consolidating equipment into one building automation system enabled the school to automatically modify operations for weekends, holidays and vacation periods for optimal efficiency.

Adjusting or replacing air-handling units improved airflow throughout campus facilities. Replacing the air-cooled chiller with a more efficient system delivered more consistent cooling in all classrooms and facilities. Other retrofits or replacements improved everything from heating to LED lighting to plumbing with innovative technologies, which all contribute to more comfortable classrooms.

The school is also enhancing its curb appeal and comfort with a new airlock vestibule that will keep cold Wisconsin winter air out and allow students to stay warmer while they wait for a ride home.

Other improvements, include the largest photovoltaic system for any K-12 in Wisconsin, the school will save an impressive 60 percent in utility costs annually, generating $14.7 million that can be used to further improve classroom comfort. It’s also receiving a $50,000-per-year state rebate afforded by the project. All of that is money the school can use to further the district’s vision, without having to raise taxes.

Unlike Lakeland High School, many schools are still struggling to address classroom comfort issues. As buildings age, the infrastructure that significantly influences comfort begins to fail or become dilapidated. Such failure affects more than the building. Studies show the more comfortable students are, the better they perform.

Can classroom comfort be improved on your campuses?

 Here are four key ways to improve classroom comfort:

  1. Provide consistent temperatures. Optimize HVAC systems to minimize temperature swings throughout the day and room-to-room (or school to school). Old single-pane windows are part of the problem- They’re inefficient and contribute to big temperature swings. New double-pane, solar-shielded windows keep rooms well insulated and cut down on the late afternoon sun. Students and staff should get a consistent experience no matter what area of the building they are using.
  1. Stop maintenance-related disruptions. Problems such as leaky roofs can make sections of classrooms distracting or unusable (not to mention wet). Unscheduled maintenance and repairs can push students out of their routine and upset scheduled curriculum. Standing water, if not addressed right away, can become an even bigger health problem if mold develops.
  1. Reduce classroom noise. Window AC units are bulky, noisy and distracting, especially for students sitting nearby. Replace box window AC units with optimized HVAC systems. Centralized control systems give administrators a holistic view, allowing them to see and schedule temperatures and active times across the entire district.
  1. Make classrooms brighter. Optimal lighting is crucial to classroom comfort. The latest in LED technology produces a brilliant light that produces less heat, and in addition, there’s less maintenance and downtime because a typical fixture lasts 20 years (or longer.)

Maintaining a portfolio of facilities at peak performance can be costly. Consider that over its lifecycle, a $10 million building requires a $40 million budget to pay for the cost of maintenance and utilities. Schneider Electric is committed to helping school districts modernize facilities, upgrade technology and address deferred maintenance.

To learn more about how Schneider Electric can help your school district achieve its vision, visit