Power outages are always an exciting topic of conversation in Lincoln and the school is a not-infrequent victim of branches falling on the wires that run between the road and the school. One very important aspect of the building project is that the electric lines are being buried under ground. This work has begun, most noticeably along the road between the center field and Hartwell.
With Deep Gratitude…
Because of a very generous gift from an anonymous donor, we will be able to restore the plan to build the courtyard outside of the Learning and Dining Commons. The design includes three large benches that will be made from several salvaged oak trees from Ballfield Road and from granite pieces that are on Lincoln conservation land. The SBC is very excited that the courtyard has been reinstated into the project! It will become a wonderful school and community asset.
We don’t mean to “drone” on…
…but we hope you’ll enjoy this aerial view of the construction site that was provided to us by our Owner’s Project Manager. They plan to take videos on a monthly basis, so stay tuned for more as we all watch the progress! More project photos are here.
Next (Virtual) SBC Meeting: Wednesday, September 16th @7:00pm.
Turning a building that was constructed between 1946 and 1994 into a unified, net zero building requires building super-insulated exterior walls and roofs. This work is now underway and you can see the footprint of the new outer walls. Not only does this work allow us to create the insulated exterior, it also provides a bit more interior space for the new Dining Commons and the middle school hub spaces. Click here to see the latest photos.
The SBC meets this week on Wednesday, August 12th at 7:00pm via Zoom. The agenda and Zoom link will be available here on Monday.
Over the past 18 months, the SBC has gone through several rounds of lengthy and difficult decision-making to cut costs and keep the project on budget. At each step we used our core project values to make tough choices, and through the 90% construction document phase, we were able to make cuts without impinging on those values too much.
The last round was different.
In December, the project went out to bid and the marketplace got to have its say. Now we saw the impact of a combining a complex, phased renovation with a hot construction market and changing trade policy. The bids came in $3.5M over budget. So…we rolled up our sleeves once again – February was rough! Cutting $3.5 million out of the project meant that the SBC, for the first time, needed to eliminate parts of the project that we had tried really hard to protect. Parts of the project that represent our collective community values. Values identified after years of community conversation and collaboration.
As a result, we are asking residents to approve using $829K from Free Cash to restore 8 items (below).
To quote Chris Fasciano, SBC Chair, “…the SBC is acutely aware of the pressure of the current [COVID and financial] situation and we have given this request a lot of thought. In the end, we feel the responsibility of delivering a school project that has the most long-term value for our investment. We don’t want to look back in five years and regret that we didn’t present the community with a choice about whether or not to include these pieces of the project.”
Want to learn more? Have questions?
- Watch the 1st SBC Public Forum here.
- Fill out this questionnaire (the link to the video is also imbedded) and ask questions.
- Register to attend the SBC Public Forum on Monday, June 8th @8:00pm
Just for fun…What does the school look like from up in the air? (scroll down to find the answer!)
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Signed!
To address the Town’s sustainability goals for municipal buildings, the School Building Committee proposed, and the Town agreed, to design buildings and systems in the buildings that are powered entirely by electricity (Yes – there’s a back-up, gas-powered generator), and to provide enough solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to meet all of the building’s energy needs on an annual basis (to be net zero).
- The PPA was the best route for the project because: 1) It eliminated the need to provide upfront financing for the solar PV project, and 2) the Town, as a tax-exempt entity, cannot benefit from state and federal tax incentives.
- The SBC formed the PPA Subcommittee to pursue an agreement (Thank you to Buck Creel, Jim Hutchinson, Tim Christenfeld, Alex Chatfield, Ed Kern, Michael Haines, and Peter Watkinson who have been working tirelessly since the subcommittee’s formation in December 2018!).
- In 2019, the PPA Subcommittee recommended SunPower Corporation to provide the solar PV system through a non-profit solar program organized by PowerOptions, Inc. The program is administered under Massachusetts G.L. c 164. PowerOptions is a nonprofit organization that has negotiated low electric and natural gas rates for the Lincoln Public Schools for many years.
- Negotiations for the PPA were lengthy due to the complexity and unusually long timetable for the project, but on March 29, 2020 we signed a PPA agreement with SunPower and PowerOptions!
- The currently planned solar PV system will have approximately 1.4 MW of PV panels spread across the Smith and Brooks School roofs, as well as on canopies above both Smith and Brooks parking lots, and a 500 KW battery storage system.
- Collectively, the PV panels will produce approximately 1.6 million kW hours of electricity annually, meeting the electricity consumption needs projected by the school architects, and the annual cost to the town is expected to be within the current energy budget for the Smith and Brooks buildings.
- The Brooks parking lot canopy footings and some conduit work are scheduled for the summer of 2021, but most of the installation of the solar PV system is expected to occur in one deployment after the entire renovation is substantially complete.
The GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) is Finalized…
…and the project is a go! (Wait, what about the Special Town Meeting (STM)? I thought we had to vote?)
First let’s answer the STM question because it has come up a few times: Way back in February 2020, BC (Before COVID-19), the construction bids were received, they were over our budget, and the SBC cut $3.5M out the project to keep it within the approved $93.9M. We then had a school project that was both on time and on budget. However, to make that happen, we had to cut a bunch of items that are important educationally and to the community, and so the SBC requested a Special Town Meeting to ask residents if they would like to vote for additional funding to restore any or all of those aspects of the project. The SBC is still considering bringing items to the Town for a vote, but the $93.9M project goes on regardless of the outcome of the vote(s).
So why is the GMP just being finalized now? When the SBC met (virtually) on March 25, it was to approve the final costs, terms, and schedules that make up the GMP. New to the proposed language was a clause addressing possible costs and schedule impacts of COVID-19. Figuring out the full implications of COVID-19 on the project is difficult and we are working closely with our project team to understand what those impacts might be. The situation is evolving, and we will update the community as we learn more. In the meantime, after negotiations between our Town Counsel and Consigli, the GMP includes a COVID-19 clause that shares potential financial impacts between our general contractor, Consigli, and the Town. A key aspect of the agreement is that there is a cap on COVID-related expenses.
- Consigli has a construction contingency of $1.7M built into its contract. The new agreement allows them to use the contingency for COVID-related expenses. Any expenses Consigli identifies as being due to COVID-19 will be submitted for approval to Daedalus, our Owner’s Project Manager, and/or the SBC.
- If all of Consigli’s contingency is used, they may be reimbursed for COVID-related expenses for up to 25% of their contingency ($425K).
- The goal is to have these COVID expenses be covered either by Consigli’s construction contingency or by the owner’s (Town’s) contingency ($4.3M).
Last Wednesday, while the sun was still up, the SBC spent part of its meeting outside looking at proposed exterior materials in natural light. As a result, the SBC approved 1) a red brick that mimics the brick on the current Smith School; 2) a dark, warm gray accent brick; and 3) a pallet of three cement board colors that will be used on the upper portions of the Auditorium and Reed Gym.
In addition, SMMA presented an updated HVAC plan.
Click here to see the entire slide deck from the meeting.
NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, August 14, 7pm, Hartwell.
What a fabulous 4th of July parade! Enjoy some more parade photos below.
The SBC will continue to meet over the summer. On the agenda this Wednesday (July 10, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room):
- Update on exterior elevations and materials
- Review mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) systems
- Review LEED scorecard
- Project budget update
The SBC website will be undergoing maintenance over the next week or two – things may look a bit different, or some pages/documents may be temporarily offline. Thank you for your patience!
For the first time in…a long time…there was no school project presentation or vote at Town Meeting. However, there were two warrant articles with ties to the project:
- Property Tax Study Committee: In February, the Selectmen (BOS) appointed the Study Committee, which is charged with examining existing tax abatement/deferral programs, determining unmet needs, investigating other possible programs, and making recommendations to the BOS. Click here to see the slides from Town Meeting.
- Solar Bylaw: Lincoln first adopted a solar bylaw about a decade ago. Since then, both photovoltaic (PV) technology and the financial arrangements for installing PV panels have changed. Town Meeting voted to amend the current solar bylaw to allow residents, businesses, and the Town to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs). This was a critical vote for the school project, and it was approved virtually unanimously. To learn more about how the bylaw was changed, visit the FAQ page on the Town website.
This Week’s SBC Meeting: The SBC will meet on Wednesday, March 27th @ 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room. The agenda includes:
- Review site and floor plans
- Review exterior elevations
- Review HVAC systems
- Review monthly budget update
- Review updated modulars plan (temporary classrooms)
…Throughout the development of the school project, we have been focused on reaching an energy use target of EUI 23. What does that mean, how do we get there, and are we getting close to our goal?
First, a refresher, what is EUI?
Energy Use Intensity (EUI) = The amount of energy (kBtu) consumed per square foot of a building. It is calculated by dividing the total amount of energy consumed in 1 year by the number of square feet in the building.
Currently, the school’s EUI is about 65. Why are we trying to get to 23? That is how efficient the building should be in order to be net zero “ready.” Then, the solar PV we put on the roof and over the parking lots will offset the electricity use of the school, making it a net zero building. We are on track to be the first net zero school renovation in the state!
How do we drive down electricity use? There are several main components:
- The building envelope: Highly insulated walls and roofs, and energy efficient windows.
- Mechanical systems: All electric heating and cooling with a heat recovery system (see below to dive deeper into VRF and heat recovery systems).
- Lighting: An LED lighting system that can gauge and adjust to the amount of natural light.
- Plug load: How do we use the building? What are our electricity habits? This piece of the puzzle will require all of us who use the building to consciously consider our behaviors.
How are we doing so far? SMMA just ran an energy use model of the building at the Schematic Design phase. As of now, the school has a predicted EUI of 23.39! Energy models will be run again at the end of Design Development and during the Construction Documents phase.
Click here to see the slide deck from the February 13th meeting. It gives an overview of proposed systems and the energy model.
Do we still have your attention?
What is a VRF system? What is a heat recovery system? Whether or not you are an electrical or mechanical engineer, this technology is pretty cool!
For those interested in the punch line, the goal of these systems is to create a consistent and comfortable indoor environment. They take into account outdoor temperature, solar heat load, and humidity, and can balance out different conditions in different parts of the building.
For those who want to know more…
While the details will be worked out over the coming months, the design team team is proposing some very interesting technologies for air quality, building comfort, and minimal energy usage to achieve our net zero goal.
Traditional heating and cooling systems are usually 100% “on” or “off”. For example, your house may clunk and creak when the boiler fires up, or lights may briefly dim when the A/C kicks on. In contrast, the systems for our new building will have “modulated” or “variable” operation: compressors and fans can run at partial capacity. The resulting system is quieter and more efficient, and can balance heating and cooling needs much more effectively (e.g. one classroom is receiving full sun and another is not).
Ventilation is another issue, as modern buildings are extremely well sealed. The design team is proposing “energy recovery ventilators” (ERV), a type of heat exchanger. ERVs efficiently transfer most of the heat from outgoing stale air to incoming fresh air (or the reverse in the summertime).
In addition, rooms will have sensors to detect occupancy via the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by people. That information is used to optimize air quality (through ventilation) as well as heating and cooling needs.
…or you just love learning about mechanical and building systems, this is the meeting for you!
SBC Meeting this Wednesday! (February 13th)
7:00pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room
On the Agenda:
- Introduce the Commissioning Agent (person who oversees the execution of all the detailed work that must be done to meet our sustainability goals)
- Review the Owner’s Project Requirements (The “OPR” is the document that lays out general and specific sustainability goals for the project)
- Review proposed MEP (mechanical, electrical & plumbing) systems
- Review the progress of the Energy Model (are we meeting our energy use target?)
- Review updated site plan
More about Sustainability…
On February 1st, representatives from the SBC, design team, Lincoln boards and committees, and Eversource, met to talk about all the aspects of the project that fall under the “sustainability” umbrella: the draft OPR, the negotiation of a Power Purchase Agreement, stormwater treatment, and mechanical systems. Achieving net zero in a renovation project is a cutting edge concept for public schools in the state, and the message from Eversource was that they recognize our efforts, and are willing to partner with the Town and the design team to support the project in some unprecedented ways. Representatives from Eversource talked the group through the kinds of rebates that may be available to the Town (see the presentation from Eversource here).
Here is a summary of the technical assistance offered by Eversource: