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Includes: HVAC, locker repair, plumbing, and sheet metal.

Frank Maes, Manager (20 years with Department, 11 years as manager)
36 technicians and support personnel

Mechanical Craft Shops include HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning); Sheet Metal (duct work, exhaust vents, venting hot water heaters, installing ceiling grills, installing air conditioning units, and locker repair); and Plumbing (domestic water, gas, and sewer maintenance).

The Department attends to what isn’t visible to school occupants but becomes acutely evident when it is not operating properly. The HVAC Shop stays abreast of the cooling and heating systems that provide physical comfort to students and teachers, enabling them to do their jobs of instructing and learning without the diversion caused by unsuitable classroom temperature conditions. This involves performing regularly scheduled PM inspections and upkeep (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) on the District’s 6,600+ pieces of equipment. Controls — becoming more high tech and cutting-edge every year — are set for optimum classroom conditions and are continually monitored.

The Department’s Plumbing Shop’s unremitting care of APS’ plumbing systems contributes to all systems’ dependability and operating at maximum efficiency. The Shop’s monthly preventive maintenance work guarantees that the sanitary sewer and drinking water systems are unrestricted and contaminationfree. PM on sewer systems help to minimize sewer backups at schools eliminating classroom disruption.

Also conducted monthly are inspections of all fire protection sprinkler systems, kitchen hood fire suppressant systems, and boiler systems. The scheduled inspections and equipment service delivers assurance to students and staff that they have the cleanest, healthiest, and most comfortable classroom environment possible. Due to the steadfast attention to the District’s plumbing and HVAC systems, APS has not known a school closure due to mechanical failure in 16 years.

PM programs are carried out with the aid of outside contractors. The one-man Locker Repair Shop is the sole craft not on a PM program as lockers rarely wear out. Regrettably, it is usually vandalism that results in needed repairs.


Shifted 25% of PM work from contractors to in-house

This was made possible for three reasons. First, three technicians assigned to elementary schools are now also performing PM Direct scheduled work throughout the District. Secondly, these techs are being aided by four temporary technicians hired specifically to augment the Department’s PM program. The temp personnel are mainly assigned exhaust fans PM (checking belts and greasing bearings) and air compressor PM. They also conduct heating systems start-ups; boiler PM; and evaporative cooler prep, start-up, and walk through (replace water and check operation of pump and motor). The techs assist with other PM work, large and small, as needed in the HVAC Shop. Lastly, the Department was able to re-hire two knowledgeable and high tech-savvy technicians in filling two vacancies. They hit the ground running — no big learning curve required — and are assigned strictly PM work.

Update APS’ mechanical design standards and guidelines

Due to the influx of new systems and designs in recent years, the District’s mechanical design standards for new construction projects had become antiquated. The Department’s management personnel were part of a team that brought architectural and engineering design standards up to date. Their involvement largely focused on providing guidelines to streamline maintenance operations and labor costs.

Air filter vendor provided installation at an astronomical savings

The Department has purchased air filters for HVAC equipment from Air Filter Products of New Mexico, an approved APS vendor, for years. In a competitive effort, the District worked with vendors to provide an option to install air filters for $2 each versus the $60 per hour paid to contractors. Air Filter Products replaced every filter throughout the District for a total cost of $11,700, a 93% savings over the contractor cost of approximately $168,480! M&O has added the “installation” requirement to new contract filter bid documents to determine if money can be saved when the vendor also provides the installation. (It is not yet known whether it was a fruitful endeavor for Air Filter Products and will again be offered, at the same price or an amended price.)

Replaced copper piping and fittings with galvanized piping on rooftop cooling units

The galvanized piping is more “theft proof,” less costly, and is as durable as copper. While installation of galvanized piping and fittings is more time intensive, theft has become such a problem that it will save money in the long term. (Note: PEX piping is not suitable for rooftop unit installation as it is not currently UV rated.)

Electrical consumption monitoring devices installed on mechanical units at select schools

In M&O’s unending quest to conserve energy, this program will gather data regarding the use and effectiveness of mechanical units, appraise the findings, and expectantly result in energy use improvements. The devices will also help reduce the pricy demand charges triggered by electrical surges.

HVAC ahead of schedule in start-up of summer coolers

For the second consecutive year, the HVAC Shop got cooling systems up and running a full month ahead of the annual schedule, resulting in smoother operation of the Shop in general. This has become the new standard that will be performed and observed annually. Seasonal shifts in temperature also affect the schedule.

Participated in the design of HVAC systems installed in new APS Community Stadium

The Department Management and HVAC and Plumbing Shops’ Supervisors were part of the mechanical design team for the heating, cooling, HVAC controls, and plumbing systems at the award winning stadium recently completed. Respecting their expertise resulted in systems that will be maintained cost and time efficiently. The architecture and engineering team worked closely with M&O on HVAC projects.

Upgraded HVAC and plumbing systems at Hoover Middle School

The obsolete and uneconomical plumbing systems in the school’s kitchen and gym (including locker room and PE teacher’s office) were updated by M&O technicians. The completion of this project has eliminated many work

Converted steam boilers to hot water heat boilers at Mission and Lowell Elementary School

Hot water boiler systems are notably more energy, time, and cost efficient.

Installed energy efficient VRF and DDC at numerous APS sites

The new energy efficient heating and cooling variable refrigerant (VRF) flow systems have been in existence for almost three decades though are relatively new in the United States. Invented in Japan, they are widely used in Asia, Europe, and South America.

In addition to high energy efficiency, their design flexibility and quiet operation make VRF systems ideal for APS classrooms. While sophisticated, they are not complicated, allowing control over the entire system from a single location or via the Internet. And Direct Digital Controls are low voltage electronics for heating and cooling systems that are individually operated via the APS Intranet. PM inspections are unnecessary as the computer, rather than manpower, monitors the system.

Providing dual heating and cooling while saving energy, maintenance, and utility costs, VRF systems don’t require a boiler, eliminating the carbon footprint. In addition, the systems can be installed ductless using individual cassettes or side wall mounted units. As VRF systems provide measurable savings in their energy efficiencies and considerable savings in maintenance, the District is incorporating these systems in new and renovated classroom projects. To date, these include the Rio Grande Intensive Support Program building; Georgia O’Keefe Elementary School; Support Services office on M&O’s Lincoln Complex; Highland High School Autism Center; Valley High School Industrial Arts building; South Valley Academy Charter School; a new addition at Osuna Elementary School; and Montessori of the Rio Grande Elementary School where the Department Management and HVAC Shop Supervisor participated in the design of the VRF and DDC systems.

PM programs (on-going) - As HVAC and plumbing service inspections are state-mandated (code required), the Mechanical Department is ahead in developing PM programs; however, many of the following PM programs are not required. All PM work is automatically generated by the PM Direct work order system. PM work orders are monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annual, and annual and visual inspections are performed weekly. Below are the numerous PM Direct generated work orders.

• Fire protection sprinkler system inspections
• Kitchen hood suppression systems
• Exhaust fans
• HVAC filter change-out
• AC equipment inspection and fully serviced (pads changed every other year)
• AC start-ups (evaporative)
• Winterize AC shut-downs (evaporative)
• Cooling tower and chiller service
• Steam boiler service
• Steam boiler prep for winter heating
• All heating system start-ups (with and without boilers)
• Steam boiler layup
• Steam boiler summer inspections
• Hot water boiler summer inspections
• Weekly boiler inspections (visual)
• Chemical treatment for boilers and chillers
• Annual (primarily summer) inspection, and if necessary repair of plumbing systems
• Natural gas pipe run: 25% of schools are performed every summer and each school tested every four years. 
  Grease all gas stops (shut off); pressure-test all gas lines; inspect for leaks and repair if found.
• Water softener treatment
• Chlorinate treatment
• Plumbing inspections at all school sites (drains, faucets/fixtures, toilets, urinals, water fountains)
• Septic pumping and disposal
• Grease trap pumping
• Backflow testing and inspection / backflow prevention
• Inspection and repair of air compressors
• Chillers inspection and repair
• Fire pump flow inspections
• Dry pipe system drip test
• Air compressors inspections
• Chiller water closed-loop service
• Ground source closed-loop service

Special Challenges / Issues

Dependence on outside contractors
The Department, while improving, continues to be dependent on outside contractors in continuing to properly serve the schools. Due to M&O observing strict state licensure hiring requirements and APS’ pay scale, it is difficult to fill vacancies. If use of contractors could be reduced by approximately 25% in the next three years, the savings would be considerable. (Fortunately, it is not unusual for departed technicians to return to APS.)

Aged mechanical infrastructure
The age of the District’s mechanical infrastructure is resulting in waterline breaks. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority is also experiencing the same issues of aging infrastructure. As water lines break, they are being replaced with PEX, an innovative plastic piping that doesn’t corrode or cause oxidation, and is less costly than galvanized steel. Although it is a viable repair solution, ideally the piping would be replaced prior to breaks; however, the high level of funding needed is simply not available. The Department Manager attributes the 7.4% increase in Plumbing Shop work orders (see following illustration) to the high volume of waterline breaks in the 2012-13 fiscal year.



Status of 2012-13 Goals

  • Install DDC systems at Sandia and Del Norte High Schools. Sandia in progress as new building is completed and Del Norte will be completed through new construction phases.
  • Upgrade obsolete and inefficient HVAC and plumbing systems at Hoover Middle School. Done, see Highlight above (Note: James Monroe Middles School was wrongly listed in the 2011-12 Report.)
  • Provide professional development and DDC systems training to more technicians. While a few technicians have learned the systems, currently only one technician (in addition to the Department Manager) is actually certified. With more technicians certified, schools with DDC systems will receive faster responses to work order requests. Not achieved as few new DDC systems were installed in 2012-13 due to limited funding. However, in anticipation of acquiring the needed new systems in all new buildings and renovations, DDC training is scheduled for technicians.
  • Continue converting from standard evaporative cooling and hot water heating systems (steam boiler) to VRF (hot water boiler) systems in new buildings and renovations (FD+C). Highland High School is in the design and funding process. Goal in progress

2013-14 Goals

  • Install VFR and DDC systems at Dolores Gonzales and Reginald Chavez Elementary Schools, Del Norte High School Industrial Arts Building, and the new Central Kitchen currently under construction.
  • Hire qualified HVAC technicians. The Manager is hoping to rehire performance proven former APS technicians and advance existing technicians.
  • Add one more PM task in the HVAC shop (yet to be determined), and one in the Plumbing Shop (possibly hot water treatment).
  • Convert at least one or two of the nine pending steam boilers to a hot water boiler.
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