Recap: Community Call Preview of the Mark Twain School for Scholars HVAC System
For those unable to attend the recent community call to preview the proposed air filtration system for the Mark Twain School for Scholars, below is a list of the questions that were asked during the meeting. Additional questions can be sent to Jeremy Beasley at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: As part of an agreement between MPC and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), MPC is proposing to complete two Supplemental Environmental Projects to benefit of the community around the Detroit refinery. These projects will be undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action taken by EGLE for violations of air quality law.
The first project will provide upgrades to the air handling system at the Mark Twain School for Scholars. The project at Mark Twain School for Scholars will provide an entirely new air filtration and purification system – including air-conditioning for the first time – for the school. The air purification system is proven to kill bacteria and mold, deactivate viruses and neutralize odors. It is expected to be completed in August 2021.
The second project will upgrade the existing Perimeter Air Monitoring System (PAMS) around the refinery to provide community members with near real-time access to air quality data. The Detroit refinery website and cell phone application will allow local residents to access this information. It is expected to be completed in December 2020, which provides ample time for community education. The PAMS project underscores MPC’s commitment to managing emissions to regulated levels, transparent reporting and protecting the safety of the community and our on-site team.
More information about EGLE’s enforcement process and the proposed consent order can be found on EGLE’s website.
Q: How was the project and school selected?
A: Community leaders, members of the refinery CAP and representatives from the Sierra Club met with Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) and proposed that individual air purifiers and AC units be installed in each classroom at Mark Twain School for Scholars. Upon presenting this project to Detroit Public Schools, officials stated that due to the age of the school, it was unlikely that the existing infrastructure could handle two units per classroom. Instead, they made a counter proposal asking that MPC retrofit the existing system with increased filtration and centralized air conditioning. After review, MPC agreed to DPS’s counteroffer, which is how this project came to be. The school was selected because of its proximity to the Detroit refinery, the fact that the school did not have quality filtration or air conditioning, and because the school has been a staple in the 48217 community for years.
Q: Why are both incoming fresh air and recycled air being routed through the same filter. Why isn’t the fresh air being filtered through a MERV 14.
A: Due to the configuration of the air handling system, it is not feasible to filter the fresh air and recycle air separately; however, both air streams will be combined and routed through a MERV 8 filter, followed by a MERV 13 filter. This combination is proven to provide a significant reduction in airborne particulates. MERV 13 was determined to be the highest rating the system could handle, which is why a MERV 14 was not selected. MPC HVAC experts also noted that the proposed filter combination exceeds all MIOSHA and ASHRAE standards.
Q: Why are disposable filters being used. Were reusable filters considered?
A: Based on research, reusable filters can only achieve a MERV rating of 6, which is well below the proposed MERV 8 and MERV 13 that is proposed to be used.
Q: Are these carbon filters?
A: These filters are fiber filters. Carbon filters are primarily used for odor control, which the PHI system will take care of.
Q: Why is the system being retrofitted and not installed with everything new?
A: The existing system was reviewed and determined that it provides a good skeleton for the project. The metal ductwork is in good shape and only needs to be cleaned to ensure the benefits of the project are fully realized. The fan motors were recently replaced and provide the air handling capabilities needed to achieve the goal of this project. Also, the radiator tubes and boiler system are well designed to meet the heating needs of the school. The items that will be “new” include a new filter bank, two air conditioning systems (40T and 115T), and PHI for air purification.
Q: Would MPC consider committing to Maintenance of the system beyond the life of the Consent Order?
A: MPC’s decision to participate in this SEP shows our commitment to this community and the students at Mark Twain School for Scholars. As such, we want to see the school and its students benefit from this project to the fullest. For purposed of the SEP, we are committed to supporting the replacement of the filters and PHI for the 5-yr life of the Consent Order. However, , we would be willing to discuss ongoing support with DPS officials once we’ve satisfied our 5-yr commitment with EGLE.
Q: What is the expected ongoing maintenance of the system?
A: The two main maintenance items will be routine filter replacement and periodic maintenance of the PHI system. MPC will work with DPS representatives to ensure he school maintenance engineer is properly trained to address these tasks.
Q: Will the existing equipment outlive the new equipment?
A: While we cannot make any guarantee as to the lifespan, the existing system was built very well and should continue to provide reliable operational support for the new system. The components of the new system, namely the AC compressors, are expected to last at least 10 years per manufacturers guidance; however, this lifespan will be based on equipment utilization (i.e. how frequently the unit is used). Based on limited annual use, we believe the units have the potential to exceed manufacturers expected lifespan.
Q: What is the warranty for the new equipment?
A: The new system will have a one-year warranty on the labor, and a five- year warranty on the compressor part.
Q: What is the timeline of this project?
A: We anticipate that the HVAC system will be installed by September 2021.
Q: Will air quality in the school be monitored before and after the project to determine the effectiveness of the new system?
A: There are currently no plans to perform pre- or post- monitoring of the school’s air quality; however, we believe this project will demonstrate positive results that could be utilized in other schools and support a collaborative effort between SDEV, Sierra Club, and others to gather data necessary to support other efforts.
Q: Can you explain the PHI system and any cons associated with it?
A: PHI (photo hydro ionization) utilizes UV light to interact with components in the PHI system, which produce a low concentration gaseous form of hydrogen peroxide. This technology has been around for nearly 20 years and is used in nursing homes, schools, hospitals, etc. The hydo-peroxides molecules neutralize bacteria and viruses, while also eliminating VOCs and other odor causing compounds. Unlike other air purification systems, this system does not produce ozone.
Q: Why is MPC not linking the PAMS monitors to EGLEs system?
A: MPC plans to link our PAMS data to a 3rd party platform; however, the option to link to EGLE in lieu of or in addition to the 3rd party platform had not been considered. MPC has reached out to EGLE representatives to discuss the viability of this option and will share the path forward once more information is known.
Q: What is the end of the comment period?
A: EGLE’s comment period ends September 28, 2020.