Houghton-Portage Township Schools
Houghton-Portage Township turns its schools into exceptional 21st century learning environments
At a Glance
- $12.4 million — Size of bond referendum passed to fund energy and technology improvements in the schools as a result of community support generated by a public relations campaign prepared by Johnson Controls and implemented in cooperation with the school board.
- $3 million — Energy savings expected over the next 20 years from a broad range of energy efficiency upgrades and improvements to school buildings, classrooms, and other facilities.
- $10,000 — Annual savings from replacing the school system’s analog telephone system with a state-of-the-art digital telecommunications system.
The challenge: Provide students with the academic tools and environments they need to be successful and garner public support for funding school improvements
Houghton-Portage Township schools are known for excellence. In fact, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the high school as one of the best in the nation. Yet the high, middle, and elementary schools had aging classrooms lacking the technologies students and teachers need to foster academic achievement. In addition, they lacked enough music rooms and gymnasium space to accommodate students and the community. Safety and security improvements were needed. The schools had to become more energy-efficient to keep operating costs in line. The school board wanted to address all these needs, but doing so would cost over $12 million. Lower energy costs would offset some, but not all, of the expense. The board needed additional funding and could only get it if voters supported the idea.
The solution: An information and public relations campaign to generate voter support for a bond referendum to fund technology and facility improvements
Johnson Controls worked with the school board and its architects and engineers to develop a plan for upgrading school facilities and implementing energy efficiency improvements. A key component of the plan was a performance contract that guaranteed $3 million in energy savings over the 20-year contract term. A bond for the additional $12 million needed to pay the remaining costs had to be approved by voters. Johnson Controls worked with the school board to develop a multimedia public relations campaign under the theme “Teaching for Tomorrow” to promote the financial, educational, and community benefits of the project. The campaign generated community support, and the bond passed.
Usually, after a bond referendum passes, a lengthy bidding process ensues to select contractors and suppliers before work can proceed. However, because Johnson Controls did the sourcing when developing the performance contract, project work began the day after the referendum passed. The project included:
- more efficient lighting, boilers, and HVAC systems.
- window replacement.
- roof repair and replacement.
- water-saving toilets and plumbing fixtures.
- CCTV and card-access security systems.
- the Johnson Controls Metasys® building management system to control and integrate lighting and HVAC systems for optimum efficiency, comfort, and safety.
- a district-wide wireless network and a new digital telephone system to replace the schools’ analog system.
Classrooms and labs received a technology makeover with upgraded laptop computers, intelligent whiteboards, and video projectors.
With funding in place, Houghton-Portage Township was able to build an additional gymnasium and a second music room to accommodate the overflow from the schools’ physical education and extracurricular activities as well as programs for the public.
Results and benefits
The schools’ efficiency upgrades control energy costs, and are projected to save $3 million over 20 years. The new telephone system saves the school system an additional $10,000 a year. The energy-efficient schools now have 21st century classrooms which are well-lit, comfortable and equipped with the latest learning tools and technologies. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators are pleased. The township has the facilities needed to continue its tradition of academic excellence well into the future.
The Johnson Controls approach provided a comprehensive package instead of requiring us to pick and choose the upgrades we could do. This ultimately made it easier for the board to buy in to the project and to sell it to the community.
– Dr. Brad Baltensperger, Board of Education, Houghton-Portage Township Schools
Johnson Controls can work with you to create more energy efficient schools in your district. Contact us to learn how to make your facilities work more efficiently, sustainably, and profitably, or try our operations and energy savings calculator today.