H-F’s remodeling, building projects are on schedule

Work on the science building at Homewood-Flossmoor High is on time and on budget. (Provided photo)

Homewood-Flossmoor High School has four major building projects on its books – a new science building, a new commercial kitchen, a rebuild of the residential kitchen and new spaces for fashion/interior design – and all are expected to be delivered on time and on budget, according to Jim Patterson, director of operations and maintenance.

The work is budgeted at $26.9 million. The District 233 school board borrowed $20 million to cover most of the construction work. The remainder will come from district reserves. The district will be awarded a $2 million grant from The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation after the science building is open and all green projects are officially certified as operational.

Work in the North Building is divided into three phases. Patterson told the school board’s Finance Committee in November that work on Phase 1 is the rebuild of the fashion design/interior design classrooms. Students will be able to move into the new spaces at the start of spring semester in January.
Planning the work required several moving parts. Fashion design took an old wrestling room and a classroom to create the new space, Patterson said.

During the spring semester, Phase 2 work will convert the old fashion design space to a new residential kitchen. Phase 3 plans call for creation of a new commercial kitchen “like you see in hotels,” Patterson said. The commercial kitchen should be ready for school’s opening in August 2024.

The domino effect of the plan means H-F can continue to run its fashion/interior design and culinary programs without missing a beat. Adding the commercial kitchen will allow H-F to offer this final course in the culinary program.

Work in the North Building will continue over the holiday break. Workers will be laying new hallway flooring, replacing ceiling tiles and swapping out dated lighting fixtures, Patterson said.

At the South Building, work continues on the new science building. Weather has been good for outside work. The plan is to have the exterior walls, referred to as “the envelope,” built so crews can work indoors over the winter months. Patterson said the footings and foundation walls are up and crews are working on the underground plumbing and electrical. Crews are putting up the block walls on the west and east walls.

The science building is designated a Net Zero building. It is designed to generate its power from solar panels on the roof, and from 20 geothermal wells dug 500 feet deep, Patterson said. Geothermal works by using heat from the center of the earth to produce energy. Geothermal technology is capturing the heat from the earth’s core and using it to power generators and to heat and cool buildings.

Patterson said the science building, 46,000 square feet with 15 classrooms, will produce more energy than it will use. The solar panels will produce all the energy needed. The geothermal wells will be dug on a field next to a parking lot.

In an H-F informational video, Patterson said the geothermal wells “are going to take care of our heat and cooling through the winter and summer. What that does is we take the heat and cooling out of the ground, as opposed to from the electricity. We pump water through it, we pick it up and dissipate heat and cooling and that’s the way we’re actually going to run our system.”

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