Even as states face budget shortfalls, education obligations continue to grow. Christopher Lehmann, director of K-12 at Johnson Controls, looks at ways school districts are employing Building Wide System Integration to improve learning environments, increase security and ensure energy savings.
Q: Welcome to a world where everything is smart, safe, comfortable and sustainable. What does this vision mean for school districts?
CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN: A smart, safe, comfortable and sustainable district delivers an optimum learning environment, utilizing the entire campus while lowering costs, managing risk and enabling performance infrastructure and facility optimization. School districts are more financially challenged and feeling the pressures of competition, making it vital that they operate efficiently. Additionally, they seek solutions that connect learning to students in the classroom and remotely. A smart connected district attracts students, teachers, staff, new homeowners and new businesses that will invest in the community.
Q: What does a “smart” district look like?
CL: The majority of US K-12 schools are more than 42 years old, have more than $271 billion in deferred maintenance and require another $271 billion to bring them into compliance. With so much to do, setting priorities can be a challenge for understaffed facility teams. A “smart” connected district allows the exchange of information between various building systems, the “cloud,” electric utilities, micro-grids and smart phones, providing real-time information to manage and control building environments, and optimize infrastructure and facility management to achieve the district’s mission.
Q: Why is comfort critical in schools?
CL: High student achievement is linked to newer, updated and properly maintained infrastructure, improved lighting, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Schools without a major maintenance backlog and adequate custodial workers have a higher average daily attendance and a lower annual dropout rate.
Evidence shows certain aspects of school buildings impact student health and learning. For example, even small temperature changes can impact student performance. In classrooms that are clean, healthy and daylit, students are comfortable, less prone to illness and more focused on their studies.
Q: In addition to comfort, have sustainability and “green” become expectations in school districts today?
CL: The impact of green buildings on the health and well-being of students is as important as energy in encouraging new green investments. Reports show that investing in green attributes enhances the reputation of a school and improves its ability to attract students and teachers. That’s because green schools increase health and wellbeing and improve student productivity. Additional benefits of green schools include community/faculty satisfaction, student engagement, improved acoustics/attentiveness, increased enrollment, a better reputation and increased attractiveness.
Q: With the Johnson Controls and Tyco merger, the new company now has one of the most comprehensive security portfolios. What most excites you around safety and security?
CL: Now we can lead and implement a centralized smart security infrastructure to support the district’s Emergency & Crisis Management Plan, tying to our building automation system. Tyco’s innovation and focus on technology will help connect security devices on a common network, enabling communication and the automated actions a “bestin-class” plan requires. Building Wide System Integration enables building systems, like lighting, HVAC equipment and building controls, to work simultaneously to provide quicker responses.
Christopher Lehmann, Director, K-12, North America
Christopher joined Johnson Controls in May 2016, with responsibility for leading the North American strategy, growth and implementation of the K-12 business. He earned Bachelor of Science in public relations from Towson University and attended Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business.
Want to find out more? Ask our expert at 855-978-6923 or johnsoncontrols.com/k12
When school officials at Central Bucks School District wanted to trim budgets, they insisted that nothing compromise the learning environment. Through a performance contract with Johnson Controls, school officials say they already are saving $1.5-2M in utility costs annually.
The district has teamed up with Johnson Controls on multiple energy performance contracts, which has allowed the district to reduce operating costs and improve comfort, offset the costs of major building improvements with the energy and operational savings, and implement a solar energy system that doubles as a learning tool. Efficiency improvements made here guarantee energy and operational savings of $6.9 million over 15 years.
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