Thursday, October 28, 2010

How Green Can We Go?

Over the past six years, CSUSM has made great strides in energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint of the campus. The energy management team has had some notable achievements as they have invested their time in making CSUSM a green campus. And “Going Green” is no easy feat, as it takes incredible planning and a portfolio approach, which looks at the entire campus to ensure every aspect is considered when new programs are developed as well as ensures that those programs and planning efforts are appropriately diversified.
Energy Management has celebrated some huge successes over the past few years, especially with the renovations of the Central Plant. This renovation has enabled the Central Plant to increase its capacity so much so that the expansion will easily and quickly pay for itself in energy savings. The anticipated energy savings was 20% from the project however, last year, the energy savings was 33% which equated to approximately $1,000,000 in avoided costs at last years utility rates. The avoided costs will be less this year since the utility rates have also decreased even though the energy savings will be the same.

In addition to the Central Plant expansion, the energy management crew was busy with several other energy saving projects, such as
  • Revamping the HVAC systems in Science Hall I and II
  • Making renovations to Craven Hall to improve the control and monitoring systems
  • Instituting the monitoring base commissioning program to ensure that buildings are constantly being tracked and issues are being addressed in a timely manner.
  • Worked with IITS to make the computer systems more efficient by putting computers to sleep when not in use - - - computers produce as much heat as someone’s body, doubling the room demand for the air conditioning system, and making the system work twice as hard. This collaborative effort saves electricity and air conditioning costs.
  • Worked with IITS to purchase a package that increases the efficiency and capacity of the campus servers, reducing the number of servers needed, in addition to saving electricity and air conditioning costs.
  • Set up a new sprinkler irrigation control system in place which monitors and predicts water being used and needed
  • Implemented waterless urinals, which saves 45,000 gallons of water per urinal per year
  • Updated campus lighting quality throughout the campus
  • Replaced code blue lights in Parking Lots with 4 watt LEDs, which equates to better visibility, huge energy savings, and lights that will not have to be replaced for twenty years
  • Piloted solar panels on electric carts to increase the battery life and length of cart driving
  • Developed a control sequence to tighten energy tolerances. Now thermostats that are connected to the energy management system can be pulled up on a computer and reviewed to maximize consumption based on occupancy
  • Installing a Monitored Demand Control Ventilation system (Airquity) into the science labs, which is a device used to measure the composition of air in the labs since the labs have to be ventilated 24 hours a day/7 days a week. This project will not only lead to huge savings, but a safer environment, as the airquity system will measure whether people or chemicals are in the room and will adjust the conditioned air accordingly.
So with all of these great programs and initiatives being worked on and implemented to make CSUSM a green campus and friendly to the environment, where else do we need to go. In talking with Ed Johnson, there is still so much that can be done. The future of energy management at CSUSM is to become a net zero energy campus, meaning that we will be producing as much energy as we use. Talk about reducing our carbon footprint!

So how do we get there? How do we become a net zero energy campus? As you can imagine, this would be a huge win and a financial victory for our campus!

As with the current approach to energy management, CSUSM will move forward, taking the same holistic, portfolio approach to ensure everything is considered and all of our eggs are not invested in one basket. Because as we all know, technology is changing quickly, especially in this field, and we need to keep our eye on all of the possibilities and potentials of our campus to ensure we are not focused on one fuel source, but instead multiple options to achieve the environmental and the budgeting goals. So what are some of possibilities over the next few years to get us to net zero energy?
  • Maintaining the current systems efficiency and ensuring issues are being resolved quickly and effectively
  • Continuing to update and enhance buildings to ensure they are as energy efficient as possible
  • Continuing to monitor what chemicals and materials are being used as building are being constructed
  • Continuing research in solar power, as the power carts are updated with solar panels
  • Considering options for solar power on buildings. The new police building is already slated to receive photovoltaics, and there is potential for other areas of campus, such as the library, University Hall, Science Hall, the parking structure, and maybe even parking lot J. The benefits of solar power are that there would be no upfront costs to the university and as technology is changing so quickly, this may be the most cost-effective way to go
  • Looking into fuel cells. Electricity can be produced by injecting biogas into the fuel cells at the Central Plant, which would create renewable energy for the campus
  • Begin researching wind power and measuring speed to understand capabilities of the campus to invest in this type of technology
  • Ensure that new construction exceeds Title 24 energy requirements by 30%
  • Consider water options for the athletic fields, such as using ground water via wells instead of purchasing water. Groundwater could be used to water fields, percolating back down into the ground to regenerate the wells and reused. Determining water and mineral rights of the campus will play a major part in this capability
There is still much to be done. Additionally, I would like to recognize Floyd Dudley for his outstanding contributions to energy management. Floyd has been named Young Energy Manager of the year by the Association of Energy Engineers. This is an impressive accomplishment and an incredible honor – congratulations, Floyd, and we’re glad you’re part of the FAS team!

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