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Snohomish School District Saves with VRF Upgrade

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With a price tag of $217,000, the Snohomish School District’s need for a new cooling system to protect its data center was nothing to sneeze at. But neither was what could happen if the aging existing system failed and the data center’s systems began to overheat.

“The existing equipment had already been repaired once,” says Rebecca Sheppard, Resource Conservation Manager for Snohomish School District. “It had a leak and was failing.” As it became increasingly clear a new cooling system was needed, Rebecca and the school district turned to Snohomish County PUD and Senior Energy Management Engineer Rob Marks, who was already familiar with the school district’s needs.

Working with the PUD, the Snohomish School District was able to save more than $39,000—or 18 percent—on the installation of an energy efficient variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system to cool the data center. But the data center wasn’t the only location to benefit.

“They were able to tie the new VRF cooling for the computer room into their existing office VRF,” Marks says. “This let them use the heat rejected from the computer room to directly heat their office spaces.”

The new energy efficient HVAC design is expected to reduce the school district’s load by 127,000 kWh annually and save $11,000 a year on energy costs, money that goes right back into the classroom.

“The whole project was just astonishing and just a very positive experience,” Sheppard says, adding the annual energy savings should help the school district recoup the cost of the upgrade in 15 years.

“I’m thrilled,” says Ralph Rohwer, executive director of operations at the school district. “And I still have $39,000 in the bank that we didn’t have to spend.”

Reprinted with permission from Snohomish County PUD.