Energy performance project moving forward

By Bruce Parkin, Physical Plant

The Physical Plant will soon be starting a $50 million to $80 million energy conservation project for the campus. The Capital Improvement project will be funded by utility savings over a 20-year period. A key goal of the project is to improve campus building performance in conjunction with saving on operating costs. Since the contractor will guarantee the performance of the measures, the agreement is commonly called a performance contract. Some of the more obvious components to undergo renovation will be lighting and lighting controls, new chillers and other building mechanical improvements, water conservation measures including low flow toilets, and steam and electric distribution improvements including building metering.

Last summer we issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the major Energy Service Companies (ESCO''s) qualified by the State Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). We received five responses with project proposals ranging from $20 million to $70 million. A cross-functional team, including members from many departments across the campus, was assembled to review and critique these five responses. After much scrutiny and analysis, Johnson Controls was selected as having the most beneficial proposal for the campus.

The Johnson Controls proposal was selected to maximize capital improvements ($40 million to $70 million) and to significantly reduce the deferred building maintenance backlog on campus. This proposal is designed so that our buildings will be modified and operated to provide better lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation for building occupants. Key strategies include efficiency improvements and the use of a computerized control system that can be set to either time or motion in order to turn things off during unoccupied hours (this system can be overridden from a central location). In addition to the physical modifications, through various outreach programs we hope to reinforce the economic and environmental importance of energy and water conservation in the campus community.

Johnson Controls has begun a detailed audit to refine the costs and savings estimates of each Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) in its proposal. A few examples of the ECMs proposed are building transformer upgrades, installing variable speed drive motors, cogeneration in the power Plant, replacing steam traps, and replacing inefficient building lighting. There are 45 ECMs in the Johnson Controls proposal. Not all the ECMs will be implemented, only the ECMs that are proven worthwhile in the detailed audit phase will be executed.

As part of the detailed audit approximately $500,000 worth of meters will be installed in campus buildings. These meters will monitor the minute-by-minute usage of electricity, water, and steam in each building. This monitoring will establish a baseline of the energy usage in the individual buildings being monitored. This established energy usage baseline will determine how effective each proposed ECM will be. The baseline energy usage will also establish the performance guarantee for the ECM. If the ECM doesn''t reduce the energy usage baseline in the building by the agreed upon level (typically 20-40 percent) then Johnson Controls is liable to make up the shortcomings to the university. The detailed audit will last roughly six months and will be followed by the construction phase.

The construction phase will go on for about two years but no longer than three years. The most advantageous ECMs will be implemented first to maximize project savings. 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.