Although I still support the EVG consolidation, I am concerned that energy conservation issues are not being seriously addressed. As a consequence, the present designs still reflect 20th century thinking - a time when we built whatever we wanted as long as we could pay the price. However, climate change and its consequences will, within just 10-15 years, bringing many consequences, including the increasing cost of energy.
In November, 2018, I gave the Virginia school board a presentation on the consequences of climate change, and repeated that program for the Eveleth/Gilbert board in the spring of 2019. Since then, I have emailed them many important articles about the increasing effects of climate change every week, and I have urged them to make energy conservation a priority by maximizing insulation, minimizing glass within reason and minimizing, again within reason, the exterior surface to interior volume ratio of the buildings.
As designed, both EVG schools will waste increasingly expensive energy for decade after decade at taxpayer expense. The most obvious example is the Eveleth/Gilbert primary school which has a very high exterior surface area to interior volume ratio. This also applies to the secondary school, but to a lesser extent.
Consider the short, heavily furred, barrel-like body of the Arctic fox. Its short legs, tiny ears and brief tail reduce heat loss by minimizing exterior area compared to its volume, but its cousin, the leggy, large-eared, long-tailed desert kit fox does the opposite, encouraging heat loss by maximizing its surface area compared to its volume.
The primary school is akin to the desert fox, but unlike either fox, our northern buildings must be heated when temperatures are low and air conditioned when they are high, which demands energy conservation.
Although Superintendent Schmidt has been helpful in supplying architect plans for the building, the plans, being insufficiently detailed, have only been useful in a general sense. And because I was admitted to the advisory committee, which was restricted to school personnel and the architect (and perhaps the construction company), I had no way to raise energy issues except via emails, which have apparently had very little effect.
When people toured several Alexandria-like schools that were designed before climate change became a concern), they were understandably impressed by the large expanses of glass. Like the DECC in Duluth, with its towering array of glass that faces the harbor, these facilities will be paying excessive energy costs due to rising heating/cooling expenses.
Whenever I mentioned these issues to Dr. Schmidt, I was told that the plans were still open to change, but I have seen no evidence of efforts to address these issues. The architects, of course, will design whatever we request. Fortunately, it is not too late to get serious about energy costs and revise the designs to maximize insulation, minimize glass, and minimize the exterior area to interior volume ratio. Fortunately, minimizing glass and the exterior area/volume ratio will also reduce construction costs.
George Erickson, Eveleth, MN
Dr. Erickson is a best-selling author, a past VP of the American Humanist Assoc. and a member of a group of 80 physicists, engineers, MDs, energy experts and journalists who are deeply concerned about climate change, the environment and energy issues.The 2020 update of his image-rich book, Unintended Consequences: The Lie That Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change is available FREE from www.tundracub.com and http://nuclearclimatefix.com/node/94.