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Summer 2010

cover story:

Bellevue Public Schools Receives Harding Award


J.M. Harding Award of Excellence

Bellevue Public Schools Wins Harding Award Champions for children and energy efficiency. The Bellevue Public School District takes its motto – Champions for Children – to heart. While it is preparing the students for the future, it is making sure its facilities are energy efficient and affect the environment as little as possible. The district has 15

elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools, serving more than 10,000 students. The district received exemplary ratings at all grade levels for its assessments and student achievements on the state report card, one of only two districts to do so.

Lewis & Clark Middle School is a pioneer in its own right when it comes to energy efficiency.

Bellevue has produced state and national trophies in debate, forensics, drama, band, music, DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), Science Olympiad, Knowledge Master, Science Bowl and Future Cities.


It has two large nationally recognized Air Force ROTC programs, mentoring programs in all schools, and top-notch facilities, with no portable classrooms. And as the fourth-largest school district in the state, Bellevue maintains twomillion square feet of school, administration and recreational space. In its quest to provide quality education, the district has done a fair share of homework itself to ensure its facilities operate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. As a result, Bellevue Public Schools has become a champion for energy-efficiency and envi-

Mission Middle School Dean of Students Shawn Hoppes and Principal Laurie Hanna meet in the school’s media center.

ronmental stewardship at all of its locations. For its continued efforts in this area, OPPD has awarded Bellevue Public School District with a second J.M. Harding Award of Excellence for efficient and innovative use of energy.

Named for the first president of OPPD, J.M. Harding, the award has been given since 1984 to a commercial or industrial customer for demonstrating efficient and innovative use of energy. Bellevue’s repeat receipt of the award is a reflection

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Award Has Honored Excellence For 27 Years OPPD has awarded the Bellevue Public Schools with the 2010 J.M. Harding Award of Excellence for efficient and innovative use of energy. OPPD began giving the award in 1984, and the school district becomes the second commercial and industrial customer to receive the award for a second time. Bellevue first received the award in 1997. Mutual of Omaha also received the award twice – in 2007 and 1990. The award is named for J. M. Harding, OPPD’s first president. Harding served in that capacity for 20 years and built OPPD into the most progressive public power district in the state. Past Winners 2009 – Gallup 2008 – NatureWorks 2007 – Mutual of Omaha 2006 – Millard Public Schools 2005 – Methodist Health System 2004 – The Lund Company 2003 – Henry Doorly Zoo 2002 – Creighton University 2001 – Westside Community Schools 2000 – Offutt Air Force Base 1999 – University of Nebraska Medical Center 1998 – Baker’s Supermarkets 1997 – Bellevue Public Schools 1996 – First National Bank 1995 – 3M Valley 1994 – Nebraska Furniture Mart 1993 – First Data Resources, Inc. 1992 – KVI Associates, Inc. 1991 – Omaha Public Schools 1990 – Mutual of Omaha Companies 1989 – Wilkinson Manufacturing 1988 – Campbell Soup Company 1987 – Control Data Corporation 1986 – Vickers 1985 – AT&T – Omaha Works 1984 – Valmont Industries, Inc. 6 OPPD ideas/summer 2010

A ground-loop heat exchange system, buried under this field at Bellevue Elementary School, is similar to ones previously installed at the district’s Welcome Center, Lied Activity Center and Lewis & Clark Middle School.

of the leadership of the administration, led by Dr. John Deegan, Bellevue’s superintendent of schools, the Bellevue Board of Education, and the teamwork of the Bellevue Public Schools’ staff. Lean and Green “Going green isn’t just a trend in Bellevue, we live it every day,” said Dr. Deegan. “Bellevue Public Schools has partnered with the Omaha Public Power District for many years. OPPD has evaluated our energy systems and recommended plans on how to become more efficient. These recommendations have paid off for the Bellevue Public Schools and provided us an opportunity to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars and good role models for our students.” Bellevue Public Schools has been very proactive in energy-efficiency upgrades, both in partnership with OPPD and on its own, according to Steve Sauer, OPPD account executive. OPPD, with assistance from the Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Nebraska, has evaluated the district energy systems, provided recommendations and helped develop a plan on how to become more

efficient. “Once the plan is fully implemented, energy costs may be reduced by 20 percent or more,” said Sauer. “Bellevue also does a great job of long-range energy planning,” said Sauer. “The district always has something on its long-range plans. For example, West and East high schools both have HVAC comfort and upgrade needs. Once funds become available, they will address them.” Bellevue believes in a payas-you-go program, according to Dr. Deegan. The district saves money and then builds or upgrades facilities. It has the lowest tax rate in the metro area, and it has no bonded indebtedness – all of the schools are paid for. True Champions “A driving force in all of our projects is comfort for students. If they are comfortable, they will be able to learn and perform better,” said Jim McMillion, director of support services for the Bellevue Public School District. “But we certainly look at cost when we are planning projects. We try to put together programs and projects that go hand-inhand with comfort, cost and


energy efficiency. We look for the best bang for our buck.” A dramatic transformation took place in 2009 at Bellevue’s oldest school, Mission Middle School, when old radiator heat and inefficient air conditioning units were replaced with energy-efficient heat pumps, a new cooling tower and high-efficiency boilers. Principal Laurie Hanna helped orchestrate the change, which began while school was still in session. “We had to move classrooms for two to five days at a time so workers could run ductwork and install heat pumps in each classroom,” said Hanna. “We had to move through the building in a manner that was efficient for the workers, and we had to give teachers at least a day’s notice to relocate their classrooms. It worked like clockwork.” When school got out for

the summer, workers had the run of the school. “I took pictures of the whole thing because I wanted the

staff to realize everything that went on,” said Hanna, who knows the school inside and Continued

School District Offers Its Own History Lesson The Bellevue school system is Nebraska’s oldest. It took roots in 1833, when Baptist missionaries were sent to Nebraska to convert and educate the Otoe Indian tribe, which lived near the Bellevue Indian Agency. Up until that time, fur trading was a bustling business along the Missouri River. The Otoe – along with the Omaha, Missouri and Pawnee tribes – had supplied goods to fur-trading posts on both sides of the river. However, with the decline in the fur trade in 1832, Lucien Fontenelle sold Fontenelle’s Post to the U.S. government for use by the agency. By the mid-1850s, Bellevue was the oldest and most widely known settlement in the territory. Omaha and other areas started to prosper, and in 1867, Nebraska became the 37th state in the union. In the 1890s, Fort Crook located in Bellevue and provided impetus to the city’s future population growth. Fort Crook was later named and redesigned as Offutt Air Force Base. Today, the Bellevue Public School District is the fourthlargest school district in Nebraska. It serves more than 10,000 students, 35 percent of whom are dependents of active-duty military personnel stationed at Offutt.

Jim McMillion, Steve Sauer, Robert Ingram III, principal at Bellevue Elementary, and Jerry Kline, lead custodian at the school, look at the geothermal system pipes in a mechanical room. OPPD ideas/summer 2010 7


out – she taught there for eight years before her four years as principal. Many people did notice the differences. Gone were the clanking sounds from the old radiator heaters and the whistling from the air conditioners. Teachers did not have to open windows in the middle of winter because of radiator hot spots. “I didn’t get near the level of complaints that I received in the past, and I never heard the kids talk about it,” she said. “There was an absence of distraction, which was good for learning.” Digging Deep At its newest schools, Bellevue Elementary and Lewis & Clark Middle School, the district installed ground loop heat exchange (GLHE) systems, technology that it already had at the Welcome Center and Lied Activity Center. The GLHE is a spaceconditioning system that uses the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating and cooling to buildings. Wells are drilled below the surface, where heat is transferred from the earth to a liquid solution, which circulates through the piping network to heat the building. The same system cools a building by removing the heat from the interior and transferring it back to the ground. The system at Bellevue Elementary has 196 boreholes, 163.5 feet deep. Piping in a mechanical room 8 OPPD ideas/summer 2010

Over the years, Mission Middle School has retained interesting design features and added new ones, like this entryway. It is the district’s original school, founded circa 1890.

links the well field to the geothermal heat pumps throughout the school. “The biggest benefit of geothermal heat pumps is that they use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems,” said Sauer. “These systems also provide excellent zone space-conditioning, allowing different parts of the building to be heated or cooled to different temperatures.” In addition, Bellevue Elementary’s design also includes three bioretention cells, added McMillion. Traditional bioretention cells ­– also referred to as rain gardens – are small landscaped, graded areas constructed with a special soil mix and lined with a porous medium that can aid in reducing storm water run-

off, replenishing the aquifer and filtering pollution. The Bellevue school system also is the first OPPD customer to install Digital Optimizer Technology, which will be used at Lewis & Clark Middle School. This new technology will extend the life of cooling equipment, as it is designed to reduce the amount of cycling, which wears out the compressor. “It will reduce energy consumption and demand by about 40 percent for the associated equipment, and it will be another money-saver,” said Sauer. Not only do the Bellevue students benefit from the district’s efforts, but it has a lot to teach other customers, too.


Harding Memorial Scholarships Awarded to Creighton, UNO Students OPPD awarded J.M. Harding Memorial Scholarships to Shane Hanson of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Song Zheng of Creighton University. Both students have their sights set on careers in their fields of study. Hanson, a civil engineering major, hopes to work at an engineering firm that has a focus in wastewater engineering. He would like to help design sewer systems and work on water-treatment processes. Shane currently works as an intern at Olsson Associates. Shane, who attended Mount Michael Benedictine High School, received Shane Hanson of the University a Regent’s scholarship to attend UNO. With a 3.94 gradeof Nebraska at Omaha point average, he has been on the dean’s list and chancellor’s list, and he is a member of the Chi Epsilon honor society. He belongs to the American Society of Civil Engineers, plays indoor recreational soccer and enjoys biking. Hanson is the son of John and Donna Hanson of Omaha. Song Zheng, a Creighton junior who is studying finance and accounting, speaks two dialects of Chinese, English and a little Spanish. Originally from China, Zheng attended Bryan High School, where he ranked fourth out of 341 students. At Creighton, he has earned a spot on the dean’s list each semester, with a 3.68 grade-point average. Zheng is the son of Chang Zheng and Yu Wang. His involvement with the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) and Future Business Leaders of America earned him state recognition. Zheng’s activities at Creighton include Peer 2 Peer, the Anna Tyler Waite Leadership Program and the Asian Student Association. Song Zheng of Creighton In the community, he has worked with Hun- University ger Clean Up, Boy Scouts of America and Youth 2 Youth, and has visited nursing home and pediatric patients. Zheng also enjoys reading, playing basketball and hanging out with his friends.

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On the cover: Gathered in an entryway at Mission Middle School are Steve Sauer, OPPD account executive; Laurie Hanna, principal at Mission; Shawn Hoppes, dean of students at Mission; and Jim McMillion, director of support services for Bellevue Public Schools. OPPD is presenting Bellevue Public Schools with its 2010 J.M. Harding Award of Excellence for energy management efforts.

APPA Lineworkers Rodeo

Nation’s Best Show the Ropes in Omaha

A soggy start failed to dampen competitors’ spirits at the American Public Power Association’s Lineworkers Rodeo on March 27. OPPD hosted the 10th annual event at Levi Carter Park. The strongest endorsement on OPPD’s planning and execution of this event came from a visiting APPA official, who said it will serve as the template

for future APPA rodeos. Nearly 200 participants from across the country competed, including 39 three-person journey lineworker teams and 49 apprentice line technicians, who competed individually. A total of 24 OPPD employees competed, and many others worked hard to make it happen.


Ideas Summer 2010: Harding Award story only