Wright State begins energy conservation projects
Wright State has begun the second phase of a series of renovation projects that are expected to save the university $2 million a year in energy costs, according to Director of the Department of Engineering adn Construction Daniel Papay.
The initial phase of the project began in 2009 and took a year to complete. Following a one-year measurement and verification phase, conducted by ABM to ascertain whether their guaranteed energy savings had been met, the second phase began in February of 2013.
Papay explained the energy performance contract between WSU and ABM.
“ABM audited the energy usage and expenditures of the university, and then created a plan to reduce it,” Papay said. “The university paid for the improvements up front, but ABM guaranteed a certain savings per year, and if they fail to provide those savings, ABM is required to pay the difference.”
Phase two involves several major updates to campus infrastructure, including: the consolidation of heating and cooling systems, an overhaul of campus lighting, and the installation of a geothermal cooling system in Nutter Lake.
WSU Vice President of Business and Fiscal Affairs Mark Polatajko elaborated on this geothermal system.
“In terms of renewable energy projects, one really exciting thing about phase two is that we’re using geothermal technology at the Nutter Center, which is such an innovative approach,” Polatajko said. “We’re using the Nutter Lake retention pond for geothermal cooling, which is essentially cost-free, passive cooling.”
Biology student Sarah McHenry was also excited about this new geothermal system.
“The geothermal cooling pond is the most interesting aspect of the project because it uses cutting-edge technology,” McHenry said. “I’m really glad that WSU is trying to be greener and more environmentally conscious.”
ABM Public Relations Specialist Ashley Reiff described her company’s approach to providing energy solutions.
“We customize our solutions for the needs of each university,” Reiff said. “Since WSU already had a large body of water, the geothermal cooling technology was a perfect fit.”
Polatajko explained the benefit to the university.
“Our ultimate goal is to maintain accessible, affordable, quality education for our students and community,” Polatajko said. “Because of these phase one and two projects, we have been able to reduce our energy consumption, in terms of electricity and natural gas, by almost 40%, which is outstanding.”
According to Papay, WSU will save approximately two million dollars a year in energy consumption after phase two is completed.
McHenry believes the projects are worthwhile.
“I do think that these programs are worth the money because they will eventually pay for themselves and they make WSU more environmentally friendly,” McHenry said. “Wright State should continue efforts towards being more efficient.”