Granger playground
The Big Chiller

Facing uncomfortable classrooms and high utility bills due to aging HVAC equipment, Granger School District employed an innovative computer-based heating and cooling system.

Granger School District, located in rural eastern Washington, had an aging HVAC system that was taxing the district with excess costs and uncomfortable classrooms. Due to the hard water in the area, the aging system, especially the chiller, had been over-worn and was not functioning reliably or to its full capacity. As a result, the school’s facilities department was running the heating and cooling systems simultaneously year round and playing a daily guessing game to keep the temperature balanced at a learning conducive and comfortable level, wasting energy and running up costs.

“The old chiller was half efficient and we were running on one compressor versus two. Our old chiller was a dinosaur; we were running it almost twice as long as we needed to keep our building cool. And it is now extinct."
-Steve Buchanan, Facilities Director at Granger High School

In 2012, the District partnered with Schneider Electric to apply for State funding to plan the necessary upgrades. After receiving a $1,000,000 OSPI Energy Grant, the District hired Schneider to replace the chiller, flush out the current system and replace the aging parts. When the district’s new HVAC system went live, the facilities department immediately saw drastic savings.

The new system monitors the temperature through a computer program that allows corrections to each individual room and area remotely. Not only does this save time – it saves the facilities director a lot of gas money from not commuting 30 miles in whenever there is a problem! More importantly, with the new efficient system, Granger School District is seeing savings of around $60,000 a year – the equivalent of a teacher’s salary!

Key Players

Granger School District - represented by: Steve Buchanan, Facilities Director; Margarita Lopez, Superintendent; Tricia Anderson, Vice Principal.

Schneider Electric, Energy Retrofit Partner for Granger School District - Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management, has contributed to the transformation of industries with an innovative, international, and responsible mindset. Operating in over 100 countries and with more than 130,000 employees, the company’s mission is to help people make the most of their energy.

Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC) - a non-profit trade association of the energy efficiency industry. NEEC member companies provide energy efficiency products and services and assist in the development and implementation of energy efficiency programs. NEEC advocates an affordable, energy efficient future for commercial, industrial and residential customers

Author Bio

Bobby is former Solutions Stories and Media Manager with Climate Solutions. In that role, he worked to identify and engage new audiences for our programs and campaigns throughout the Northwest, with a focus on the Solutions Stories.

Bobby spent six years as the National Representative at the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (SOS), mobilizing support to restore the Columbia-Snake River Basin, a watershed home to some of the world’s best habitat for wild salmon and steelhead in a changing climate.

After receiving his degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2003, he advocated on behalf of working people and the environment. In addition to SOS, Bobby has worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 503) and America Coming Together, and volunteered for the Trout Unlimited, Elders in Action, and UNITE HERE.

Bobby hails from central Pennsylvania and has lived in Oregon since 1998. When he's not working, Bobby can be found with his partner Jenny and their cat Jove, playing music with friends, out and about on his bike, or working in the garden.

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