Energy award for Negaunee schools

Negaunee Middle School and Negaunee High School are now Energy Star-certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The two schools use 35% less energy and generate 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than most other similar buildings.

“In the past, students toward the end of the day were getting worn out because we had excess heat in classrooms that was definitely not needed,” Negaunee Middle School principal Dan Skewis said. “With Johnson Controls coming in and redoing the boiler system and the air handlers, it made it much more comfortable.”

Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls has done a million dollars’ worth of work on the middle school’s boiler system in the last few years.

The recent addition of a new auditorium at the high school included projects to heat and cool that area, but some of the work has also been simple.

“We’ve gone from 34-watt fluorescent bulbs to 28-watt (bulbs) in our ceilings,” Negaunee High School principal Mark Marana said. “Previously, we had four bulbs in there (in each light fixture), and now we’re down to two.”

The high school also has new exterior doors for better insulation, and the thermostats have been lowered.

The work that went into allowing the district to get certified resulted in $25,000 of energy cost savings in the first year.

The savings wouldn’t have been possible without support from voters.

“The funding for all of these projects was done both through the bond project that was passed a number of years ago and also the sinking fund millage that was just renewed last fall,” Negaunee Public Schools superintendent Jim Derocher said.

The sinking fund will allow the high school’s boiler system to be upgraded in the next few years.