Learning about What You Thought You Knew
Angelo Vescio is the maintenance supervisor for Fulton, New York’s seven schools. Originally in construction, he was also working part time for the school district as a bus driver and maintenance worker when, in the late eighties, he was offered a full time position with the schools’ maintenance department. His promotion to maintenance supervisor in 2001 coincided with the implementation of a major energy conservation project that was underway throughout the school system.
The energy performance project, which was conducted by Siemens Building Technologies in 2000 and was essentially a building retro-commissioning project, called for a variety of changes and upgrades for the city’s schools: lighting retrofits throughout all schools, installation of VSD and energy-efficient motors, upgrades of kitchen equipment at selected sites, and various heating system conversions among other tasks. Projected savings over a seven year period were put at about $1.8 million plus and the suggestions made by the consultant firm were implemented.
As an integral part of the implementation team, Vescio helped to perform the various equipment upgrades beginning in 2001 and basically assumed that the upgrades were doing the job. In 2005 though, he was sent to the BOC level I class by Bill Price, Fulton’s manager for buildings, grounds and security, and also a BOC grad. The course was a revelation for Vescio.
“You do these projects and often don’t realize what you’re actually accomplishing. I’m a basic maintenance guy but I can’t emphasize enough how much the course shows you what a difference these changes make. When you see the savings figures, it really opens your eyes to possibilities and gets you thinking,” Vescio observes. Another advantage he sees in the training is that “the courses are so informative, giving the pros and cons of so many different methods of energy generation, but emphasizing that most situations are unique and may require different solutions.”
He was also impressed with the fluid exchange of ideas encouraged by the BOC training and the advantage of the networking aspect of meeting peers with similar concerns. “If I buy a car, I want to talk with someone else who has one. The same thing works for the newer technologies. I like to talk with someone that has had experience with them and has advice to offer and you get a lot of that give-and-take in the sessions. Plus the presenters make themselves so available for questions that they’re a great resource as well.”
In fact, Vescio was so pleased with the level I training that he went on to complete level II last year. His interest has also been piqued to the point where he is an online student at Mohawk Valley Community College working towards his Facilities Management Certificate and has recently completed a course in green technologies as a part of the curriculum.
So where does this put Fulton’s schools now? With the 2000 energy project initiatives completed and the final savings tally coming in at about 9% over the initial projection, Vescio has turned his eye to issues that were not addressed in the energy performance project: boiler upgrades, lighting controls where appropriate, T-5 lighting in gymnasiums, libraries and cafeterias, new heat pumps for the junior high school and an exciting new, LEED-certified addition to the high school. Automated controls for six out of the seven buildings are on a modem system so that, if needed, Vescio can manage the building remotely.
“For anything we do now, the first things we look at are what is it going to save us in energy costs and is it green?” says Vescio. “Everyone who takes the courses will bring home useful information. Even I, who have worked at this vocation for twenty years, was brought up to date with the newest concepts.”