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Prestigious certification may be sought for high school

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

The Park City School Board is considering whether or not to plunk down $130,000 to get a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The possibility was discussed at a board meeting early last week.

LEED certification is awarded to schools that have filled numerous environmentally friendly criteria such as collecting rain water or saving what is known as brown water, the water sucked down the drain after a drinking fountain has been used or somebody washes their hands, to be used for irrigation.

The $130,000 cost is broken into two parts. Approximately $60,000 would cover the cost of the paperwork surrounding the certification, which Support Services Director Steve Oliver said is exhaustive. Valentiner Crane Brunjes Onyon Architecture, the architectural firm behind the high school remodel, agreed their fee to do the paperwork would not exceed this amount. If their costs came in below $60,000, the difference would be returned to the school.

The remaining portion of the $130,000 would go toward commissioning the building.

"It s a very exhaustive look at the way the building performs," Oliver said.

Commissioning includes making sure all the systems from the air conditioning to lighting are installed as designed and looks at how those systems can be more energy efficient.

"It has a promise of substantial reductions in energy," he said.

As a result, it saves money.

Sean Thompson of VCBO architecture addressed the school board at their last meeting, encouraging them to pursue the certification.

"It’s not just spending the money, it’s investing in the future of the building," he said.

The board had mixed reactions to the idea.

Kathryn Adair was surprised this was the first they had heard about commissioning and said it would be important to see a cost-benefit analysis.

Vern Christensen was also curious to know the numbers regarding a financial payback.

Board Vice President Kim Carson said she would like to see case histories and wait for a recommendation from Oliver.

"Park City, I think, is a fairly environmentally conscious municipality and the surrounding areas are too. They like to think they are on the forefront of wise stewardship for the environment," Oliver said.

He added that the certification might support and substantiate that commitment but he would like to do additional research before making a recommendation.

Board member Lisa Kirchenheiter was also concerned with the cost.

"I just can’t, at this point, see supporting a plaque on the wall for $130,000," she said.

Kirchenheiter repeated this sentiment later in a phone interview.

"The LEED certification, I am not yet convinced that this is more than something nice to say about your school," she said.

It was something the board discussed at a recent retreat and determined if they saw paybacks within seven years it might be worth pursuing the certification, she said.

"For me personally, I would need to see more than what we’re spending to make it worth it," she said.

Kirchenheiter added she has been researching LEED and noted many have said it is a good idea.

"The case studies that I have seen so far, they say it’s well worth it," she said.

The Park City School Board is scheduled to revisit the issue hear Oliver’s recommendation at their next school board meeting which will be held on Sept. 19.


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