Energy Performance Project detailed

By Bruce Parkin

The campus is in the first year of a 10-year, $42.7 million contract with Johnson Controls, Inc., of Milwaukee, for a major energy and water conservation project that is estimated will save the campus 25 percent of its utility costs.

Working in conjunction with the state Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM), Physical Plant is coordinating the energy conservation project for the campus. A primary goal of the project is to improve campus building performance in conjunction with saving on operating costs. Some of the components to undergo renovation are lighting and lighting controls, new chillers and other building mechanical improvements, and water conservation measures, including low-flow toilets, and steam and electric distribution improvements.

While this project will cause some disruption to building occupants during the construction phase, the improved building performance, associated energy savings and level of comfort for the occupants will last many years, according to Physical Plant officials.

Physical Plant personnel will be working with JCI, DCAM, and building occupants on the scheduling of work, attempting to minimize these disruptions while helping the contractor to maximize project savings.

Along with the benefits of reducing deferred maintenance, there are significant economic and environmental savings that stem from this project.

JCI estimates that the campus will save 31 percent of its total steam usage as well as 12,500 tons of coal, 142,000 mcf of natural gas, and 147,000 gallons of oil each year. This effort will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Power Plant by 31,000 tons.

The campus is also expected to save 27 percent of its total electrical usage, amounting to 27.8 million kwh annually. This will reduce carbon dioxide emissions across New England by 10,500 tons.

Project updates and other pertinent information can be found on the Physical Plant website (see link below)

Departmental meetings, presenting detailed information on the impact of this work on offices, laboratories and classrooms, are also being scheduled.

This quick reference guide can also help explain exactly what is involved and who to contact should issues arise when JCI contractors begin work in your building.

Lighting: installation of new ballasts and lamps and replacing selected lighting fixtures in order to provide better quality light and to save electricity. This action will decrease energy costs and increase lighting levels to more comfortable settings.
Each room of every campus building must be surveyed to confirm existing lighting levels and current room conditions to make sure that proposed changes are feasible. Expect no inconveniences for building occupants – work will occur in unoccupied residential areas or at night in academic and office buildings.

Steam trap/thermostatic valves: Many of the mechanical systems used to distribute steam to buildings and individual rooms are either working inefficiently or are distributing too much heat. These systems will be fixed by installing new steam traps or thermostatic valves to help regulate heat better and conserve steam energy and heat. Expect some minor disruptions of heating in individual rooms during heating season.

Toilets and flush valves: Most toilets on campus are decades old and follow outdated government regulations on water use (old standards were as high as 3.5 gallons per flush; they are currently 1.6 GPM). Those fixtures found to be underperforming will have new flush valves and china installed to conserve water. Expect each bathroom to be shut down for retrofits for one day or less depending on number of toilets to be retrofitted.

Mechanical upgrades:

Steam meter installations - the measurements taken from these meters will help determine how effective Johnson Controls’ Energy Conservation Measures are relating to steam use. Expect all work to take place in mechanical rooms with no disruption to regular activities.

Water meter installations - In order to determine the effectiveness of water conservation measures, such as installing new low-flow toilets, Johnson Controls will ensure that the largest 98 buildings on campus have accurate water meters in them. Some buildings will have their systems rebuilt for Metasys recording, while other will have new meters installed in them. Expect all work to take place in mechanical rooms; no disruption to regular activities.

Steam distribution pipe replacement - Many areas of the campus’s 25-mile steam distribution system have decayed in the ground, resulting in excessive heat loss to the earth or pollution to the air via steam plumes. Johnson Controls has proposed replacing a dozen pipe segments totaling close to one mile of insulated underground pipe in order to save steam energy and prevent heat loss. Replacement of this pipe now will prevent pipe from failing in the near future and creating an emergency. Expect some parking lots and campus roads to be partially shut down while excavation, asbestos abatement, and pipe replacement takes place. Chain link and orange snow fence will be set up around work areas and some pedestrian traffic may be diverted to alternative building entrances.

Controls: Install electronic or pneumatic control systems on building systems (lighting, HVAC) to help regulate electricity, water, chemical, and steam use. Expect most work will occur in common areas or restricted mechanical and electrical rooms. Some equipment may have to be installed in offices and laboratories.