Heating problems at three schools

  • Dec. 8, 2010 11:00 a.m.

Issues with heating systems have been costing the school district money and led to the closure of Sk’aadgaa Naay elementary for one day last month, secretary-treasurer Ken Campbell said at last week’s school board meeting (Nov. 30). Mr. Campbell said heating problems do tend to surface in the winter season, and some stem from the season’s frequent power failures. “Power fluctuations have really caused problems with digital controls in buildings,” he said. A boiler problem associated with a power outage caused the one-day closure of Sk’aadgaa Naay, he said. The boiler at A.L. Mathers school in Sandspit had problems recently that required $15,000 worth of repairs, he said. Meanwhile, it looks like the boiler at Queen Charlotte Secondary, which is only eight years old, is going to have to be replaced. The boiler was supposed to have a life expectancy of about 25 years, he said. It looks like errors in installation may have led to the boiler’s premature death, Mr. Campbell said, but he is talking to the manufacturer about the issue. Mr. Campbell also told trustees that it looks like the district will have to pay over $15,000 to the provincial government for the greenhouse gas emissions it generated in 2010. Using the “smart tool” computer program that the district was forced to purchase from the government earlier this year, Mr. Campbell entered information about the amount of fuel oil, propane and electricity the district used between January and October. The program calculated that the district generated greenhouse gas emissions that will cost $15,000 to offset, he said. That’s only for the first 10 months of the year. He will have to recalculate with information for November and December, and then send a cheque to the government sometime in 2011. It’s all part of the province’s new strategy to force public sector organizations like school districts to be carbon neutral this year, and to reduce their emissions substantially in the future. Carbon neutrality is achieved by purchasing carbon offsets reflecting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated. Mr. Campbell said that the “smart tool” analysis of the district’s utility use showed that the three schools heated with fuel oil generated most of the emissions. The other three schools, heated with propane, generated substantially less. The district’s use of electricity accounted for only small percentage of the emissions, although he said the program does not take into account the fact that much of Haida Gwaii’s electricty is generated by burning diesel.

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