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Q&A Session with Bill Gruen

Though quiet upon first introduction, Bill Gruen—Manager of Energy and Optimization Services—brings a laser focus of energy efficiency to projects at Schmidt Associates. Below, we take a few minutes to get to know him.

 

 

 

 

Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and went to college at George Washington University with a Chemistry major and Economics minor. The last semester of my senior year, I figured it out; I had taken an environmental economics course and it just clicked. I then went on to graduate school at Boston University to receive an M.A. in Energy and Environmental Studies. That’s when I knew I wanted to make a difference for the environment by moving to Washington, DC and writing legislation or working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though I never actually moved to DC, that dream directed my professional career through opportunities at several different employers. Whether it was conducting lighting audits across the country, managing energy efficiency programs for utilities, or working to make malls more energy efficient, every step of my career has followed that initial vision.

And your family?
I met my wife, Stacy, through a friend I have known since high school who used to organize annual trips for a diverse group of friends. The 1999 trip was to Costa Rica, where I really hit it off with my wife. Though she lived in San Diego at the time, and I was in Denver, we had our first “date” in Sedona—eagerly anticipating the much hyped “black-out” of Y2K. We married in 2002 and now have two teenagers–Julia, 15 and Eli, 13—a labradoodle named Kaya, and a Russian Tortoise named Oogway (which is Chinese for turtle). We also have had a Chinese exchange student, Candice, living with us for two years now. She is 16 and will stay until she graduates in a few years. All the kids attend the International School of Indiana (ISI).

Bill Gruen - family

What does Stacy do for a living?
Stacy’s work in global communications and media management has been in diverse environments – notably at eight Olympic Games (Summer and Winter), 11 FIFA World Cup soccer tournaments, a U.S. Presidential Campaign, and with the Los Angeles Lakers during the “Showtime” era. She was an Emmy-award winning television producer in Los Angeles, and now serves as the Curriculum Coordinator at ISI.

What do you do in your free time?
Having three teenagers in the house keeps us pretty busy. Julia is on the swim team and participates in several school organizations, Eli plays soccer and hockey, and Candice is on the cross country and tennis teams and also takes DJ lessons in Broad Ripple. I also am on the ISI Parent Association Board, as well as their Board of Directors. When I am not busy with one of those things, I love watching soccer and riding bikes.

Do you ride competitively?

No, but my wife is also a big bike rider. We own several bikes, including two tandem bikes. Two years ago, we did a sponsored ride on tandem bikes with the kids along Lake Michigan. It was three days and 150 miles total. The first day, we rode 63 miles, set up our tent and camped, and got up the next day to do it all again, and the same thing the last day. That was an adventure! One of our favorite rides is the Kal Haven Trail in Michigan. It goes 33 miles from Kalamazoo to South Haven, so you can literally ride all the way to the beach and jump in Lake Michigan at the end.

What’s your favorite band?
The Who. My older brother took me to see them in 1980 and I was hooked. In 2006, I was at the World Cup in Germany (my wife was working the event) with my two young children. I was doing daddy daycare with a double stroller in Frankfort through the days and would watch the matches in the evening. The Who happened to be playing at a huge festival in Belgium at the same time, so I got a ticket. They were the last band of the night and would start around 11, so I took three trains the day of the show to get to the concert that night.  Once they finished their set around 1:30 a.m., I returned to the train station. However, the first train was not until 6 a.m., so I had to stay up all night to get back to the kids and start my daddy daycare again the next day with virtually no sleep. It was worth it, though!

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I have been to two Super Bowls (Pasadena and Miami), one Stanley Cup Game 7 (Denver), and two World Cup Finals (the men’s in Tokyo and the women’s in Vancouver).

Bill Gruen - family 2

If you ever have questions about energy efficient design, biking, soccer, or The Who, feel free to give Bill a call!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle Miller, Steve SchaecherMyrisha Colston,  Drew Morgan, and Steve Spangler

The Importance of STEM in K-12 Schools

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) might seem like a buzz word or a trend these days, but demand for careers in these fields are steadily increasingly. Our economy and overall well-being depend heavily on STEM-related occupations—whether it is computer programming, manufacturing, civil engineering, or general family medicine. Getting kids involved and interested in STEM-related activities at a young age, even if they don’t pursue a STEM degree in the future, teaches them problem-solving skills, how to interact with technology, and instills creativity.

Here are some quick stats from the Smithsonian Science Education Center on the importance of STEM:

STEM stats

How can STEM-related fields help the world?
  • Improving sanitation and access to clean water to the 780 million people who currently without clean water
  • Balancing our footprint as energy demand and consumption is increasing at rapid rates
  • Improving agricultural practices to help feed the 870 million people in the world suffering from hunger
  • Fighting global climate change
  • Caring for a large aging population – just think about the 74 million Baby Boomers who are alive today

To get children today ready for a career in the future, it is imperative we pique their interest in the STEM field as early as possible. Getting a program set in place in the classroom is a perfect way to start. So how can we, as architects and engineers, help schools with STEM programs? Take a look at two examples below to see how we’ve helped our Owners prepare kids for their futures:

 

Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

STEM - Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

The Martin Luther King Community Center is a profoundly important community resource in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in Indianapolis. Through a grant from Best Buy and local support, the MLK Center was able to make a considerable investment in access to technology. In order to help this project, come to fruition, Schmidt Associates was hired to take the dream and translate it into a built reality. This Teen Tech Center gives teens a safe place to go to learn, grow, create, and prepare for their futures.

The Teen Tech Center provides training and internship opportunities, where teens can learn about robotics, 3D design, music production, and more. Nationwide, there are currently 22 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers – a number Best Buy hopes to triple by 2020. 95% of teens who attend these centers plan on pursuing education after high school, and 71% plan to pursue a field in STEM. As Indianapolis welcomes more and more jobs in the STEM fields, this center will make sure the future workforce is well-prepared for a brighter future.

 

Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

STEM - Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

The MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse school district, offering innovative initiatives to their students and members of their community. This new, state-of-the-art Innovation and Design Hub is available for students of all grade levels, teachers, and faculty district-wide to use while expanding their learning capabilities for future careers and pathways in STEM and other areas.

The space includes interactive promethium boards, 3D printers, audio/visual production, a computer programming lab, and more technologies to help students develop better computer, problem-solving, and design thinking skills. It is also flexible in design, replicating an open lab concept to host many people at one time while also providing quiet environments and presentation spaces. Students have the chance to work directly with local industry partners to further increase their knowledge and experience specific to their chosen pathway.

 

If you have any questions about how to get your school or community center equipped with STEM-related spaces, please reach out!

“One of the things that my experience has taught me is that if you are trained as a scientist in your youth – through your high school and college – if you stay with the STEM disciplines, you can learn pretty much all of the subjects as you move along in life. And your scientific disciplines play a very important role and ground you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is.”

– Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi

Top 6 Things to Know when Considering Adaptive Reuse

We have all heard the real estate mantra “Location, location, location!” However, great location does not also lead to perfect buildings. In fact, oftentimes the least perfect building is situated right on the site you want. And while some may consider a total demolition and rebuild as the only option, there are oftentimes a lot of arguments for adaptive reuse. Buildings that have been neglected, abandoned, or modified over the years are all great candidates for this type of project. Through adaptive reuse, older historic buildings can be restored – bringing back their charm and unique characteristics through careful planning and strategic design.

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House - Prior to Renovation

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House – Prior to Renovation

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House - After

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House – After

If you’re considering adaptive reuse for your next project, here are the top six things you need to know:

  1. Land Availability. When land in the area you want is hard to come by, adaptive reuse is a great option. Rather than contributing to urban sprawl, or moving to a less than desirable location, revitalizing a building in need allows you to conserve space. This type of project is one of the best ways to keep our cities and towns walkable and vibrant.
  2. Environmental Conservation. While the easy solution often appears to be building from scratch, the truth is this type of thinking can cause a lot of complications down the road, including added cost. Remember in elementary school when they taught us “reduce, reuse and recycle”? The first step in reducing our environmental footprint is to reduce our use of materials. Adaptive reuse is a choice to care for the buildings that have already been built and to help us get out of the mindset of constantly consuming. If there’s one thing we will never get more of, it’s land.
  3. Historic Consideration. One of the beauties of working with historic buildings is that you constantly discover hidden treasures. From unique features to hard-to-come-by materials, many historic buildings are proof we really “don’t build ‘em like we used to.” Adaptive reuse not only allows us to preserve a part of history, but it also allows projects to take advantage of these ‘trademarks’ of historic buildings, showcasing them now and into the future. In some cases, adaptive reuse is the only option, especially when you are dealing with buildings that are preserved and protected by organizations, such as historical societies.
  4. Reimagining Function. Although adaptive reuse strives to preserve many of the architectural features of buildings, there is a great deal of reimagining that can take place throughout the project. Buildings built for a certain prior use do not need to continue that use to be successful. Old chapels can become inns, water towers can be converted into apartments, and industrial buildings transformed to residential homes. When the location is right, and you mix in a little creativity – anything is possible.
  5. Future Accommodation. Needs are constantly changing, which is something adaptive reuse understands. Just because older buildings – even ones only a few decades old – may no longer meet the standards or desires of today’s businesses and property owners, doesn’t mean they should be written off. Adaptive reuse allows for change, while still being mindful of what already exists. Adaptive reuse protects the future, ensuring resources, including land, aren’t wasted or taken for granted.
  6. Intelligent Reconciliation. When done well, adaptive reuse is the bridge that connects past to present, history to future. Adaptive reuse projects can bring the best of modern-day technologies and innovations to beautiful, historic buildings in prime locations. This type of holistic approach ensures existing buildings and materials are honored without sacrificing today’s needs and styles. Intelligent reconciliation also happens when architectural firms work on behalf of clients to communicate plans with the community, getting the proper permissions and permits to move forward with the project.

Adaptive reuse isn’t always the best solution, but more and more often we believe it’s an option that should be seriously considered. A smart way to conserve materials, protect the environment, and preserve the past, adaptive reuse can be the solution you’re looking for, especially when you’re sold on a building’s location or charm.

 

Electrical Engineer

Schmidt Associates is looking for a highly motivated, qualified Electrical Engineer to join our team! 

Duties and Responsibilities Include:

  • Provide support for senior engineers and designers.
  • Coordinate and attend meetings with clients, project team members, outside consultants, utilities and vendors.
  • Visit project sites to gather existing condition information.
  • Assist with the design of interior and exterior lighting, power and fire alarm systems, for new and renovation projects.
  • Assist with the creating of plans for details, one-line diagrams, schematics and schedules.
  • Assist with the editing of technical specifications.
  • Provide support during bidding and construction phases of projects.

Experience/Education:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering.
  • Engineer In Training certification preferred.
  • Minimum 0-3 years of experience.
  • Experience with Revit/Autocad.

Apply on LinkedIn

When Did You Know You Wanted to be an Engineer?

Wayne Schmidt set out on his own and started our firm July 4th, 1976. More than four decades later, we are proud that we are different in all the regards that matter to us, to our clients, and to our community. While we are celebrating our 42nd anniversary, we are also celebrating another big milestone: 25 years of having engineering in-house!

We thought it would be interesting to ask our engineers when they first realized they wanted to pursue a career in Engineering. Here is what a group of them had to say:

 

Andrew Eckrich - graduate engineer

Andrew Eckrich – Graduate Engineer

My grandpa was a woodworker (by hobby, not by trade), and mom gave me a hammer and nails before my fourth birthday. A real hammer and real nails. So I picked up woodworking as a hobby at age 10 with just a couple power saws and hand tools. Many of the skills required for woodworking are the same in engineering – practice, patience, determination, attention to detail, and understanding that each piece is a little bit different – so it seemed like a good fit. I knew the hobby that I love could remain a hobby, and an Engineering career would allow for challenge and creativity while paying a bit more.

In college at the University of Dayton, taking courses called Energy Efficient Buildings and Energy Efficient Manufacturing sealed the deal for my career, or at least the beginning of it, in mechanical building systems engineering. After a couple internships in this industry and an extra year studying renewable energy engineering, I landed here at Schmidt Associates. I have very much been enjoying this first year of full-time gainful employment!

Phil Medley - graduate engineer / energy designer

Phil Medley – Engineering Graduate / Energy Designer

I wanted to be an engineer since the first semester of architecture school. I was fascinated by the concept of the Master Builder (which is what architects were before all the advances in industry, technology, etc.). This one person oversaw every aspect of the building design. Modern building design is too much logistically to be able do everything alone successfully and consistently. At this same time, I was learning about Building Information Modeling (BIM). I was of the belief that if I could leverage a tool like that, then I could do both. I just needed to understand the art and science of creating buildings and the programming could perform the logistical analysis. Its working out so far.

Steve Olinger - mechanical designerSteve Olinger (Slo) – Mechanical Designer

I believe I was a freshman in High School on a day trip with my parents to St. Mary of the Woods for mass and lunch at the convent. As we were leaving, we passed the boiler plant. The door was open, so I stuck my head in and saw enormous machinery and an endless number of tangled pipes. An older gentleman saw me in the plant and gave me a quick tour of their operation. It looked overwhelmingly complicated, I couldn’t believe that one man could know how all this stuff works, but some day I’d like to be that guy.

Andres Montes - BIM techAndres Montes – BIM Technician

I’m not an engineer yet, but I went back to school last fall to get my bachelors in mechanical engineering. I knew I wanted to pursue this path after taking a couple of engineering classes in high school, plus math was my favorite subject. I’ve always wanted to know how things worked, from small to big objects. While I was an intern here at Schmidt Associates, I realized how much I liked the atmosphere. I didn’t think twice when they asked me if I wanted to work here full time.

 

Click here to check out what the first group said while you’re at it!

A Word from Our Owners – Marian University & The Children’s Museum

Audra Blasdel

Audra Blasdel graduated from DePauw University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Computer Science and received her Masters of Business Administration with a focus in global supply chain management from the University of Indianapolis in 2009. Prior to starting her own company–Blasdel Solutions, a WBE Certified Project Management and Business Analysis company–she served as Marian University’s Executive Director of Facilities, Construction, and Purchasing.

In her current role as Director of Facility and Campus Operations at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Audra is responsible for the day-to-day campus operations for maintenance, grounds, and custodial; strategic campus planning, and construction and renovations projects. She lives in Speedway, Indiana, with her husband and son.

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Structures and systems will require maintenance and periodic repair and rehabilitation (R&R) at some point. By keeping campus buildings running smoothly and efficiently, we are able to prolong a building’s lifetime while saving on overall future costs for our Owners. These seemingly “small projects” have a large impact for Owners and the end users. While our designers and engineers are obviously well-equipped to do the large-scale projects, we also are ready to help our Owners through R&R projects. Let’s hear from Audra on her experiences throughout the years.

How did a comprehensive understanding of your facility conditions impact R&R expenditures?

In general terms, it allows us to better plan for our expenditures and gives us a broader understanding of our needs. At Marian University, we brought Schmidt Associates in to do facilities strategic planning and a larger campus master plan, all derived from a 2025 strategic plan. We then needed to build the campus master plan and a facilities strategic plan so that we could take large capital needs and compare it to daily facility needs. This results in a coordinated and well-thought out investment plan.

For example, this helped make sure we didn’t do large system replacement when we would be doing an addition to that building in a few years. It helped build a knowledge base in a centralized place rather than in various individuals’ heads. This work with Schmidt Associates helped us be smarter and more responsible.

What role has Schmidt Associates played in helping you maintain facilities at both Marian University and The Children’s Museum?

Schmidt Associates has provided a baseline assessment of facilities with an investment/expenditure plan as well as some Owner-friendly tools that allow us to manage the plan going forward. Those plans are developed in a way that allows us to manipulate and adjust the plan as we go through implementation, ensuring that the plan stays relevant and usable.  Plans are often developed in a stagnant manner, and they quickly become stale and end up on the shelf.  Steve Schaecher, an architect at Schmidt Associates, even drew a comic at some point to joke about the master plan ‘graveyard’.

masterplan graveyard

That’s been the biggest benefit to working with Schmidt Associates on these plans: keeping the plan workable, usable, and modifiable so it plan doesn’t end up in that graveyard. The focus in working with Schmidt Associates has always been how we make it an owner-friendly plan that maintains its life.

What type of R&R projects has Schmidt Associates worked with you for?

R&R strategic planning projects have included the Marian University Campus Master Plan and Facilities Strategic Plan. We’re currently working on a strategic investment plan for the parking garage structure at The Children’s Museum. Schmidt Associates has also provided scopes of work, estimate checks, and preliminary assessments on a variety of large scale R&R projects, such as boiler replacements, electrical upgrades, plumbing retrofits, and accessibility upgrades.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates.

For me, a lot of it has revolved around our long-lasting relationship over the past 7 years. This has included large- and small-scale projects and strategic planning. This opens the door for candid communication, something that is harder to have when everyone is new to the table. The consistency of who I work with and the way we work has allowed us to learn from each other and have an end product I can use going forward, which is really important. When I get a PDF that I have to regenerate documents out of, it’s not appealing. Facility priorities change every day and having a working document, not a stagnant document, is important for me on a strategic planning and R&R side.

Controls System Engineer

Schmidt Associates is looking for an emerging Controls System Engineer to join our team!

Schmidt Associates is looking for a seasoned Controls System Engineer to join our team to lead the Optimization of Building Systems by leading the MEP Team in design and development of control and specifications. Assisting in the preparation of proposals and implementation of projects. Reviewing construction submittals as they relate to engineering systems and control applications. Observing and reviewing system and control installation processes for design compliance. Assisting the Owner during their operation training phase. Leading a process for the Owner upon occupancy to assure proper system operating characteristics to achieve optimal function and energy efficiency. Provide on-going Optimization Services.

Qualifications:

The role requires a strong competency in engineering building systems and control applications. Skills in implementation of quality procedures are necessary. The ability to coordinate and integrate system control applications into the firm’s facility design process is essential. Meet project deliverables and deadlines. Work with and inform Owners on operation and optimization techniques for their systems.

Experience/Education:

  • Degree in Engineering
  • Professional Engineer (P.E.) license from the State of Indiana is preferred but not required
  • Minimum of 3 yrs experience

Apply on LinkedIn

Electrical Engineer: An Important Role in Design

Electrical Engineer Graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the title electrical engineer covers a broad spectrum of roles and responsibilities, there is an easy-to-guess common denominator: electricity. A profession that began not surprisingly in the late nineteenth century (the same time electricity itself was harnessed in Edison’s light bulb), the numerous branches of electrical engineering are as diverse as electricity’s uses.

In broad terms, an electrical engineer is capable of designing, developing, testing, and supervising electrical equipment. From GPS systems to motors and power generation, electrical engineers are always in demand because of their specialized, and vital, skill sets. One of the most practical careers in the world of STEM positions, electrical engineers really do have a hand in everything that uses, creates, or harnesses electricity.

To look specifically at electrical building system engineering, one begins to realize just how critical this role is as it’s truly an essential part to any architect’s design. The most visible design aspect – lighting and controls – is definitely important to the overall building appeal, but there’s more to an electrical engineer’s role when it comes to all of the building’s systems. From general receptacles, fire alarm systems, power for mechanical/plumbing/telecommunication equipment, site lighting, to entire power distribution, electrical engineers ensure that every part of a building functions properly, acting like the blood in the veins of a building. Electrical engineers are needed at every stage of a design project, from conception and drafting to building and final inspections.

And, as more and more older buildings are being renovated and restored, the role of electrical engineers is becoming even more critical. To bring outdated buildings back to life, they need to be able to function in today’s world – and electricity plays a huge role in that.

In order to succeed as an electrical engineer in the realm of architecture, several critical skills are necessary, including physics, electronic theory, mathematics, and a sound understanding of materials. To keep up with the changing landscape of design, many electrical engineers are turning to building information modeling (BIM) systems to better demonstrate concepts, including where devices will be laid out and how their power flows together. These simulations can be as small as a single circuit or as expansive as the power needed for an entire skyscraper – even an entire city. Because of the method of design, electrical engineers using BIM programs can easily modify plans and projections on the fly, making them even more useful to have on project sites and in client meetings.

When architects truly care about the result of a project, as well as the budget and timeline, electrical engineers become an integral part of the team. Able to take care of many of the technical details, electrical engineers ensure that projects go smoothly. This peace of mind allows clients to rest in knowing that even the smallest details are covered, no matter how individually tailored their project turns out to be. From overall functionality to the cost of maintenance, electrical engineers keep architects on track, ensuring there aren’t any unfortunate surprises as the design and build progresses.

Highly specialized, there is no replacing an electrical engineer on a design project, no matter the scope or size. Without a savvy electrical engineer, the overall architectural sense of a project is skewed, which is why it’s wise to bring in an engineer right from the beginning, not just at the end. When leveraged at every stage of a project, the absolute best outcomes are possible – both for the client and the overall function of the building.

Chilled Beam Retrofit in the Rotary Building

Big Ten & Friends Mechanical and Energy Conference – Hosted by IUPUI

Eric Broemel, PE, CEM with co-presenter Holly Thomas, PE, IUPUI Energy Engineer

October 1, 2018

The presentation focused on the design and construction of the Rotary Building on the IUPUI campus. The building was recently renovated to accommodate the IU School of Medicine. Achieving LEED Silver certification, the renovation included the extensive reprogramming of the space, the addition of a central communicating stair, the improvement of the building envelope, as well as entirely new mechanical and electrical systems throughout the building.

Schmidt Associates received an ASHRAE Design Technology Award for this project. Through the submission process for the award, the actual energy usage of the building was recorded after construction was complete. It was discovered that the usage was significantly larger than predicted by the LEED energy model. Through follow up and further adjustment of the of the HVAC systems, Schmidt mechanical engineers worked alongside IUPUI staff.  Together they were able to correct the issues and bring the usage in line with expectations. The presentation highlighted the issues that were uncovered and the actions that were taken to resolve them.

A Word from our Owners – Greenwood Community Schools

Mike Hildebrand

Mike Hildebrand is a retired Indiana State Police Detective with over 23 years of service. He began his career in education with the Pike County School Corporation in Petersburg, Indiana in 2003. Mike was hired by Greenwood Community Schools in 2014 as the Director of Operations. He is the Administrator over the facilities, grounds, maintenance, transportation, and School Safety. Mike enjoys everything about the Greenwood Community Schools System because it is a great place to work and a great place for an education. He says it is a corporation where everyone feels like family. Mike and his wife Ruthann reside in Greenwood, and they have four grown children and 10 grandchildren. Of course, he is also a huge Alabama Football fan. Roll Tide!

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When you walk through the new Greenwood Middle School, you can easily forget that you are even in a K-12 facility. The school is designed around a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) curriculum that engages students and staff in project-based learning opportunities. All 160,000 square feet, each of the three floors, every single educational space was built with the student in mind. We wanted to talk with Mike Hildebrand to see how the engineering systems bring everything together, creating an efficient learning environment for all.

Greenwood Middle School

Tell us a little about the why Greenwood needed a new Middle School.

I can say the new Middle School was an absolute necessity, not just for our students and staff, but for the community. If you hadn’t seen the old school, just imagine décor from the 60’s to the 90’s, old restrooms, dark hallways, outdated cabinets in the classrooms, poor lighting, and few windows. The HVAC system was as old as the student’s parents and some grandparents. This new middle school is a better setting for our students. The better the learning atmosphere, the more desire there is to attend school. This gets teachers more excited to teach. Even the food tastes better in the new cafeteria!

The entire school is now welcoming, has easy lines of sight, and the aesthetics are wonderful. Just enough to make it appealing without the cost of fancy features.

Have you seen an increased level of occupant comfort in the new building?

Comfort is a must in every classroom setting. The Siemens control system is wonderful. The features are easy to understand, and changing a room or area’s temperature is a breeze. The ability to go to a night or unoccupied set back has saved us a considerable amount on utilities as well. Our custodial and maintenance staff dove in head first and are continuing to learn new tricks every day. The air quality is also a vast improvement from our old middle school, which had some sections starting from 1960’s.

The design of the facility itself makes the visual observation of students during the passing periods simple. One faculty member can stand at the junction of the two wings and see both halls from one vantage point. The design and features of today’s school has changed so much since I was in school, back in the 60’s and 70’s. The newest technology is used in every classroom, students are learning robotics at a much younger age, and every aspect of this facility was discussed to determine if this was going to benefit our students for the better. This facility was designed just to do that very thing. It was done the Greenwood way.

How has the learning environment improved daily life here at Greenwood Middle School – for the students, teachers, and those maintaining the new systems?

As you know, lighting is an important feature in any educational facility. Having gone from our old school’s lighting to new LED is absolutely a huge improvement, both for the students and staff. The automatic light features that turn on/off upon entry was a huge success with our staff. The dimmer capabilities are used almost daily by all of our staff while instruction is taking place with the overhead units onto the whiteboard marker walls. Each classroom has outdoor light access as well, offering the inviting ray of sunshine in for our students.

The HVAC units are definitely a well-received item and the biggest change from old univent systems to the new buildings system. No more high fan speed noise disrupting instruction, and no more too cold or too hot depending on where you sit in the room. The capability to change the temp + or – 3 degrees at the thermostat is awesome. Students learn better when they are comfortable in their environment.

In the old school, each classroom had a univent system. When there was a failure you could count on at least a 4-hour repair as you had to pull the unit from the wall, make the repairs, and then put it back in place. What a difference the vertical unit ventilation systems have made. Easy access, easier repairs, and less time consuming for our maintenance staff. Even the filter change is simpler and can take only a couple of minutes.

In general, what have you heard from staff, teachers, parents, and students about the new school?

Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck and Asst. Superintendent Mr. Todd Pritchett were an integral part of the success of the construction and completion of our new school. All of the physical aspects–the aesthetics, flooring, cafeteria area, media center and classrooms–have been praised by students, staff, and community. Our easy access points for the office area during the school day or the secondary entrance for our indoor athletic events are very welcoming without going over the top in costs.

The pride of Greenwood Community Schools has once again peaked to the point of happiness. Even our residential neighbors have had nothing but good things to say about what once used to be a farm field to now becoming a modern and beautiful school facility. In short, no one is more pleased than our students, our parents, our staff and our school leaders. We could not have hoped for more than what we’ve received in our new Greenwood Middle School.

How would you describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates, specifically the engineering team?

My experience of working with Schmidt Associates has been wonderful, from the design portion all the way through to completion. Even with minor punch list items remaining a year in now, the cooperative effort has been amazing.

As issues would arise during the construction, the Schmidt team would provide detailed alternatives to the issues, have quick remedies as a solution, and implement the changes into the plan. Our relationship with Schmidt Associates has become one of trust, and their team of experts have addressed our needs and concerns in a timely manner.

Greenwood Community Schools has also used Schmidt Associates on other projects, and we are in the process of beginning yet another project at our High School.

 

If you think we can help with your next project, reach out to us!