For many elementary schools, STEM programs consist of textbooks, online research and classroom experiments. For the students of Cyprus Classical Academy in Burnsville MN, STEM recently got real. On May 22, 2017, 8- and 9-year-old students installed their school’s HVAC control system through a partnership with 75F, a local building automation company.
Cyprus teachers saw this installation as an opportunity to teach their students about the real-world applications of STEM, including the importance of energy efficiency and air quality. The renovation not only created a rare learning experience for the students; the new system could save Cyprus nearly 50% annually on the school’s HVAC energy expenses.
While traditional control systems take years to get certified and master, 75F has created a solution it says is as easy to set up as an iPhone. For the 8- and 9-year-old kids accustomed to playing with touch devices, setting up the system was intuitive.
“Cyprus Classical Academy offers one of the most unique, advanced, and rigorous learning environments in Minnesota,” said Michelle Wallick, principal of Cyprus Schools. “Discovering and partnering with 75F was a fantastic fit for us. We are now able to solve a real challenge for our school building while giving our students a STEM experience they can’t get anywhere else.”
Like many older buildings in the Midwest, Cyprus Classical Academy’s 13,500 square foot location deals with hot and cold spots and rooms feeling stuffy. Based on classroom layouts, large windows, insulation, and inefficient placement of thermostats, the school’s HVAC expenses were high, and temperature comfort was difficult to maintain.
“Cyprus Classical Academy deals with a lot of HVAC issues that we see in many aging buildings here in the Midwest,” said Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F. “After some simple measurements, our team knew immediately that we could save the school thousands of dollars every year by installing smart HVAC controls, while improving air quality and comfort.”
The proposed solution will optimize the school’s HVAC and indoor air quality simultaneously using Dynamic Airflow Balancing (DAB) and Outside Air Optimization (OAO). The project consists of installing 75F room sensors in every classroom. These sensors will measure thermal snapshots every 60 seconds, which are then analyzed and combined with weather forecast data to send the optimal control strategy to the Central Control Unit (CCU). From there, the system proposes ongoing adjustments to smart dampers and room sensors and works with multiple Rooftop Units (RTUs) to reduce energy usage, improve comfort.
Training The Students For Installation
Cyprus students met with 75F technicians to discuss HVAC concepts and challenges. They analyzed the building and observed how the system was configured. For the students, one of the highlights was drilling holes in their classroom walls to install sensors and running up step ladders to install equipment in the ceiling.
After watching an instructional video, the students paired the sensors and control units together through the school Wi-Fi. They also hand drew a floorplan of the school and uploaded it to the 75F portal as a part of the commissioning process.
As of June 2, 2017, about 40% of the project is complete. Additional student led installations are planned throughout the summer for the remaining classrooms. Watch the students set up the system in this video on the 75F website.