Midland Independent School District: Enhanced Educational Environments through Federal Funding
Location: Midland, Texas
Products Used: Chillers, Air Handling, Controls, Building Automation, Heat Pumps,
Topic: Efficiency, Optimal Comfort, Air Quality,
- 28,000 students
- 38 schools
- 12 chillers replaced
- 40 rooftop units replaced
- 18 air handling units replaced
- 23 boilers replaced
- 25 chilled and hot water pumps replaced
The Midland Independent School District (MISD) serves Midland, Texas, with an enrollment of more than 28,000 students attending the district’s 38 schools. MISD, like many large Texas ISDs, had fallen behind in upgrading its aging infrastructure due to budget constraints. As equipment repairs became more frequent and were having a negative impact across school facilities, district leadership began exploring ways to improve the “environment of learning and life safety for students and staff.”
In 2020, the district hired Huckabee and Associates, a leading architectural firm specializing in the design of learning environments, to assess existing facilities for potential improvements. The results of their facility assessment shared with the board and the community in April of 2021 pointed to over $50+ million in needed aging HVAC infrastructure and renovation improvements (equipment only).
While the beginning of every school year occurs during some of the hottest days of the year, with average high temperatures in the mid-90s, the community had no desire to capitalize HVAC infrastructure improvements through new taxes. So, the initial funding strategy was to utilize existing budgets while offsetting costs through energy savings and reduced maintenance costs.
According to MISD Chief of Administrative Services Kellie Spencer. August of 2021 was especially hot, underscoring growing concerns with heating and cooling systems that had outlived their service lives.
“We were getting a lot of negative feedback as school started in August and into mid-fall when equipment failures were having a significant impact on our learning environments,” Spencer recalled. “The bottom line was our teachers and students were hot and the word was getting around the community.”
When the COVID-19 crisis led to unprecedented federal funding in the form of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER), district leaders put out a request for quote to select an air conditioning expert that could address these immediate needs. More than that, they were looking for the right partner to implement a more comprehensive, long-term plan to find the most effective and cost-efficient solutions possible within budget.
After considering several proposals, MISD selected Trane in early 2022 as its partner for development and delivery of a district-wide initiative to address infrastructure improvements within prioritized schools. The first phase of the MISD Energy Efficiency and Capital Replacement Program (EECRP) involved $15 million of district funds, with $10 million of that coming from federal stimulus funds and $5 million sourced from the general budget.
Spencer recalled that Trane was the clear choice for a variety of compelling reasons.
“First, Trane had been a proven-reliable, trusted district partner for several decades and had a close familiarity with MISD,” said Spencer. “We knew they had the comprehensive know-how and resources to address our complex needs across the district. We also saw Trane as our best partner to navigate the unique challenges of the pandemic, which has had such a significant impact on the supply chain.”
A Master Turnkey Agreement was executed in April of 2022, along with the initial work order that initiated the development phase of the EECRP program. The scope of the initial phase was impressive, with upgrades in HVAC infrastructure and indoor air quality affecting 25 of the district’s 38 schools.
In this initial phase, the MISD/Trane team focused on school buildings and facilities with the greatest need for improvement, and Facility Improvement Projects (FIPs) were developed to address infrastructure areas affecting the environment of learning for students and staff. The FIPs addressed aging HVAC infrastructure, comfort cooling and heating, building airflow and quality, as well as associated improvements to maintenance efficiency.
According to MISD – Trane account team , Rusty Reeve/AM and Leland Dixon/CSAM, the first facility improvement projects in the installation phase are HVAC chiller R’newals at 11 schools. The Trane R’newal service is conducted by highly qualified technicians using original specs and OEM parts to return equipment to ‘as-new’ status.
“The Trane R’newal process will effectively extend the life and improve chiller efficiency. This is particularly important as the chiller is the main source of cooling for the respective campuses,” Dixon noted. “ R’newal renovations are also much less expensive and intrusive than the installation of new equipment and also carry extended warranties that will help reduce future maintenance cost and avoid outages.”
Facility improvement projects were also developed to address chiller, boiler (related pumping and other associated infrastructure replacement) as well as rooftop HVAC equipment replacement for prioritized schools. In all, the initial turnkey plan involves replacing 12 AC chillers, one cooling tower, 40 rooftop units, 18 air handling and 2 related condensing units, 23 boilers, and 24 chilled water and hot water pumps, along with the chiller R’newals.
Additionally, Phase I of the EECRP calls for retrofitting 15 locker room areas in 5 schools with needed comfort cooling and heating including needed outside air capability which was a top Phase I priority for MISDR. Refreshing air handling units as well as additional RTUs and retrofit for the remaining 13 school facilities are slated for follow-on EECRP Phases
In addition, the existing Building Automation System will be upgraded, and new Trane controls will be provided for select schools, enhancing control of both new and existing HVAC equipment and allowing for continuous improvement in the areas of serviceability, energy reduction, and comfort. Air intake upgrades will complement the filter work which began in MISD schools two years ago as suggested by Trane’s original preliminary study efforts when the district switched from MERV 8 filters to MERV 13 providing better overall facility and classroom filtration.
The district was also excited about Trane’s introduction of Energy and HVAC educational partnering including both BTU Crew and NC3 in the future further enhancing MISD’s commitment to the community it serves,
The net effect, according to Spencer, will be no less than life-changing for MISD students, teachers, and staff.
“These upcoming HVAC upgrades help create the proper learning environment we set out to accomplish as a school district and a community,” Spencer said