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Bidding process reopens for Hawaii’s massive school air conditioning project

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The Department of Education has reopened its request for contractors to prequalify to bid on cooling projects, including the installation of air conditioners atpublic schools, as part of the state’s $100 million initiative to cool 1,000 classrooms this year.

The Department of Education has reopened its request for contractors to prequalify to bid on cooling projects, including the installation of air conditioners at public schools, as part of the state’s $100 million initiative to cool 1,000 classrooms this year.

The DOE said Tuesday that interested contractors need to first submit a request to participate in the qualification process.

“The goal was to prequalify contractors in order to have them ready to move quickly on the heat abatement projects once funding was in place,” Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for school facilities, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, numerous contractors were unaware of the prequalifying process despite multiple notices.”

In his State of the State speech in January, Gov. David Ige pledged to cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of 2016. Lawmakers approved legislation providing $100 million to fund the work, which Ige signed into law in early May.

In anticipation of the funding, the DOE in March initiated a multi-step process to prequalify contractors for the work, which is to include the purchase and installation of air conditioners as well as electrical upgrades to ensure schools can handle the increased loads and efforts to make schools more energy-efficient to help offset energy use.

As part of that initial solicitation, notices were distributed to more than 3,000 vendors registered on the state’s Hawaii Electronic Procurement System. The DOE says it sent out additional reminders and extended the application deadline twice. More than 500 contractors expressed interest, with 16 contractors meeting the prequalification standards, which included criteria that companies have been in business for at least five years and have a good Workers’ Compensation record.

“To expand the current pool of ‘qualified’ contractors, (the DOE) is reopening the process to qualify additional general contractors with A or B licenses,” the department announced Tuesday.

Emails have been sent to contractors who are registered with the state’s procurement website for construction-related work, alerting them of the new solicitation. Interested contractors can also access the two-step solicitation to qualify for the air conditioning projects and other construction work with the DOE at https://basec.sicomm.net/HIDOE. For more information, call Christian Butt at 808-784-5012.

Carlson has previously said that consultants have analyzed the 33 schools deemed to be the hottest in the state, and have come up with design plans to begin cooling the classrooms in those schools. An estimated 960 classrooms are expected to get air conditioning to bring their temperatures to comfortable levels.

No installation work had started as of Tuesday, according to a DOE spokesman. The first bids are expected to be awarded this week.

Some of the projects that have gone out to bid so far include:

  • On May 5: Campbell High (air conditioning, heat abatement) and Ilima Intermediate (air conditioning, heat abatement).
  • On May 18: Aliamanu Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning) and Leihoku Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning).
  • On May 19: August Ahrens Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning).
  • On May 20: Kekaha Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning) and Princess Nahienaena Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning).
  • On May 24: Nanakuli Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning); Lahaina Intermediate portable classrooms (air conditioning); Waipahu High portable classrooms (air conditioning); Kahakai Elementary portable classrooms (air conditioning); and Kamaile Academy portable classrooms (air conditioning).

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    • In the May 20 issue of SA, an article said that they started a solar powered a/c system at Kalaheo school. It consisted of 15 solar panels, an Aquion battery backup, and a 36,000 btu split air unit and is capable of cooling 15,000 sq ft. room. The value of the equipment was $25,000 but it was all donated and installed by RevoluSun solar company.

      Even if it cost a generous $5,000 for installation, the total cost would be $30,000 for a pretty good size classroom. I will repeat that it includes a backup battery. It also is solar powered so there is no need for wiring upgades AND no electrical cost for operation.

      This should be the standard for air conditioning our classrooms. I certainly hope that the State doesn’t pay $100 million to a/c 1,000 classrooms – which is $100,000 per classroom.

  • More important they were unaware of the $100 million. Real lucrative contact and then they can add change orders. I bet the Rail contractors see another gold mine.

  • This comment, “The DOE said Tuesday that interested contractors need to first submit a request to participate in the qualification process.”

    Translated to plain English, it means DOE bureaucrats expect to receive very large, bulging, heavy, envelopes of love from contractors if they even want to be considered.

    As with our money pit rail, DOE will waste money do to their standard bureaucratic incompetency. Less aircon for the kids, more money for union bureaucrats and their pet projects.

    Just another day in the backwards Nei.

  • The multi billion dollar DOE budget just got 100 million larger. But it’s for the kids .. right? Easiest thing to exploit, that’s why the DOE makes up over 50% of the entire state budget.
    It’s not that contractors aren’t interested, it’s that most already know how the ruling party rolls. You gotta pay to play in Hawaii, the only contractors receiving state jobs are those in good standing with the party of the People. Odds are a handful of PRP contractors get the bulk of the work. They’re buying our elected officials with our own money, that’s why it’ll cost 100K to cool each classroom.I wouldn’t be surprised if it costed even more, that’s par for the course in Hawaii.
    Keep voting for the same corrupt D) politicians Hawaii, you’re getting exactly what you deserve.

  • Can you take a real close look at the photo that accompanies this article? This classroom seems to have no windows. Oh wait, they are being blocked by book shelves, cabinets and portable black boards. THAT is part of the problem! There is no ventilation in the classrooms. I’ve been to my granddaughter’s kindergarten classroom several times and have observed the same problem, windows and door closed and fans facing the wrong direction to be effective.
    Another problem with warm classrooms is the fact that public schools now start during the hottest part of the year, August, instead of early September when it begins to cool off. REally, air condition all classrooms?

  • All fine and good. Where is the money for electricity and maintenance of the AC systems going to come from? Just asking because Hawaii is famous for making things and not being able to maintain them> Look at the parks and roads if there are doubts.

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