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Market Segment: K-12

Project Type: Design-Build

July 3, 2019

Warren, Ohio

Plug Smart Collaborates With Howland School District to Implement Energy Solutions, New Air Conditioning & LED Lighting

As improvements were implemented earlier this year, including the repair of a decades-stopped clock in the tower of Howland's high school, a class-wide contest was held where students proposed answers to the question, "What made the clock stop?" Topics varied from lightning strikes to aliens, global warming and a solar eclipse, just to name a few.

The contest was part of the district’s launch of a capital campus campaign, aimed at raising funds to update the district’s aging facilities. Like many school districts in northern Ohio, Howland is seeing systems within their facilities break down. In addition to the broken clock, Howland schools were more urgently in need of cooling systems to deal with hotter springs and falls and more energy efficient lighting to help manage ongoing district expenses. Building new was not an option as their eligibility for state funding would have only contributed 16 percent of the cost, burdening taxpayers with the remainder.

Howland decided to partner with Plug Smart, one of the state’s leading energy service firms to find a better way. Together, they found a way to creatively solve the district problems: Cooling solutions previously proposed were not financially viable for the district, but Plug Smart’s innovative equipment and design solution allowed Howland to install the equipment in a cost-effective manner, placing air conditioning units in the high school, middle school and three elementary schools – just in time for summer school classes. The energy efficient LED lighting installed is estimated to cut the district’s electric bill by 53 percent, offsetting its own cost in under ten years.

To commemorate the success of the lighting and HVAC project, Plug Smart employed its CONNECT Program which was created to give back to the communities it serves. Past examples have included energy focused initiatives such as building automation lab equipment, and tablets tied into district energy usage dashboards. At Howland, the CONNECT initiative was easy to identify: the clock.

In order to get it back up and running, Plug Smart sought out a regional specialty firm to assess the current condition of the district’s atomic clock, and while utilizing as many of the legacy parts as possible to maintain its original aesthetic, Plug Smart covered the cost of its repair.

“While Howland may never know why the clock stopped working, we’ll always remember why it started again: this team banded together and addressed these problems without putting the burden on the taxpayers,” says Howland Local School District Superintendent Kevin Spicher. “Not only will Plug Smart’s energy efficiency project installations help us to create a more comfortable learning environment for our students, but they will also aid us in reducing our ongoing energy costs and carbon footprint.”

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