GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 18, 2012) – An energy savings program pioneered by facilities administrators with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has lowered utility bills by a cumulative $1,727,519 over three years. This is 8.6 percent of UNCG’s total energy expenditure. UNCG is the first campus in the UNC System to utilize 2003 North Carolina legislation allowing universities to enter into long-term performance contracts. UNCG’s contract is with Trane Comfort Solutions Inc. and is implemented through the Greensboro-based affiliate Brady, a company that provides energy-efficient HVAC systems and comprehensive building solutions for commercial and industrial facilities across North Carolina. Savings to date are $82,095 beyond what was guaranteed by the contract.
In addition to the energy savings, the program has provided a way to upgrade campus infrastructure in dire need of replacement. UNCG has $144 million in deferred maintenance needs from regular wear and tear on systems. However, since 2008, the university has only received $1.2 million in funding from the state.
UNCG officials describe the project as a win-win, for both taxpayers and the university. “We’ve saved money for the state and we got new equipment,” said Jorge Quintal, UNCG’s associate vice chancellor for facilities. “These are hard economic times for the state. This kind of option is really great.”
Improvements made through Brady range from major systems, like an overhaul of the McIver Chiller Plant, to simple projects like switching from incandescent lights in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lighting and replacing toilets installed 30-40 years ago with modern fixtures that only use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
“The old systems were less efficient than technology today and they were growing less reliable as they aged,” says Quintal. “Some of the replaced chillers had been in service for 30-40 years.”
Administrators are in the preliminary stages of evaluating the next buildings for an energy performance contract. “More than 14 buildings have systems that have exceeded their expected service life,” says Quintal. “All of them are good candidates.”
“Getting new equipment helps us utilize our time better,” adds Tom White, UNCG’s utilities manager. “We do not have to work on things that were constantly breaking down.”
HVAC upgrades, such as the new chiller system in the Bryan Building, have improved the environment for students and employees beyond better lighting and temperature control. “It may not sound like much, but in Bryan, the noise level went down a lot,” says White. “The building had a continuous roar from the HVAC system, but there is no sound coming from the new equipment.”
Upgrades to five campus buildings in 2008 — Bryan, Mossman, Graham, the Jackson Library Tower and the McIver Chiller Plant —have resulted 17,663 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided during the past three years. This is equal to removing roughly 3,211 automobiles from the road.
“The ability to replace aging equipment, that’s important,” said Dan Durham, UNCG’s director of facilities operations. “That helps us meet our carbon emission and energy-saving goals.”
UNCG, along with all the institutions in the UNC System, has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Chancellor Linda P. Brady signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment last fall, making UNCG one of nearly 700 institutions nationwide to pledge to become carbon neutral as soon as possible.
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