Behind the scenes at the College of Wooster, members of the Physical Plant and Campus Sustainability Committee are working together to make every building on campus a little more environmentally friendly through energy savings. According to Peter Schantz, director of the Physical Plant and Co-Chair of Campus Sustainability Committee, this could come to fruition a year from February.
ìIt’s not uncommon for College campuses to have opportunities that they are unaware of to save energy,” said Schantz. ìThere are companies that help colleges identify what those saving opportunities are and find ways to help the college finance those improvements.” These Energy Service Companies, or ESCOs, come to a college campus and do an initial review of its facilities and provide an primary report that determines whether or not they can be more efficient. If so, the College signs what is called a ëperformance contractí with the ESCO, which says that they will come to the campus and do an engineering study in order to identify all of the facility improvements that could save energy on campus. They then proceed to install said elements.
Additionally, the ESCO will determine the ëreturn on investmentsí (ROI), or the amount of money saved, by making these changes. Ideally, energy bills will decrease from these improvements to the extent that the leftover money will pay for the investment over a specified period of time.
ìIt nets out to not cost the College anything,” said Schantz. ìThat is a part of the ESCO contract. Some ESCOs will guarantee that if the College doesnít see those improvements, theyíll pay the difference.”
Currently, the College is in the early stages of this process. Schantz stated that the College has decided to hire a local engineering company, Dynamix Engineering, rather than an ESCO to evaluate the campus to make more specific changes. Additionally, students in WooCorps helped this summer with on-campus data collection.
ìWe used the engineering companyís staff to collect the technical data on campus … WooCorps students collected data that was less technical, such as the light levels in every building. They inventoried every light fixture on campus by size, type and quantity and then measured the condition of the windows on campus, which affect the performance of our buildings as well,” said Schantz.
A number of students also evaluated plug loads in our buildings, calculating the number and type of items we have plugged into the walls. Schantz said that WooCorps even had a team that evaluated all of our plumbing fixtures by placing bags under the faucets to measure water leaked over a specific period of time.
All of these potential improvements have been tracked with the intent of determining the cost of the improvements and the ROI. This data will be presented to the Board of Trustees in February. If approved, the College will proceed to a request a proposal from an ESCO for a performance contract.
ìDepending on which action the board takes, I think that within a year from February, we could be installing new and efficient utilities on campus,” Schantz said.
If approved by the Board of Trustees, the College will consider ESCOs such as Seimens Building Technology, Johnson Controls and Gardener Trane, though Schantz stated nothing is confirmed as of yet.† ìI think this is a real opportunity for us to make a difference in the campusí sustainability,” said Schantz, ìIím hopeful weíll be able to move forward.”