Although no ground was broken in the traditional sense, work officially began Monday on environmentally friendly renovations of the 54-year-old Minnie Howard Campus of T.C. Williams High School.
School and city leaders, including ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman and Mayor Bill Euille, congregated near a drilling truck in the schools parking lot to kick off the new $4.6 million project, which the School Board approved on March 5. The introduction of solar and ground-source geothermal energy designed to significantly lower heating and cooling costs highlight the greenovation effort.
The decision to continue with environmentally sustainable school improvements is in line with the school systems new Strategic Plan. The goal, School Board member Scott Newsham said prior to the groundbreaking, is to make schools as green as humanly possible.
To provide the new energy sources, builders will employ 42 solar panels and dig 72 wells reaching some 300 feet below the ground. These additions mean that the school can rid itself of two huge, decades-old boilers and replace them with one that is the size of a compact refrigerator, school officials said.
Were using the earth and the sky to heat and cool the building, said David Conrath, ACPS supervisor of design and construction.
The project, called TC9 by the architects and engineers involved, will also feature low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption, automated lighting controls to cut down on energy usage and solatubes, skylights that direct natural sunlight from the rooftop to rooms below.
All totaled, engineers expect the improvements will cut the buildings natural gas consumption by two-thirds, essentially covering the cost of the project within eight years.