Western working to increase energy efficiency on campus

Western Washington University students pass under the Academic Instructional Center skybridge on their ways to and from class. The AIC, along with the Environmental Studies Building and the Communications Facility (both in the background) and a number of other campus buildings, will undergo energy efficiency upgrades starting this spring. File photo by Matthew Anderson | WWU

Western Today staff

Western Washington University is beginning a utility efficiency and improvement project in 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls that will cut down on rising energy costs and lead to significant utility savings over time.

The utility improvements will include lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls, and water conservation.

Western will be utilizing a state program to finance the campus construction work, which will be paid for by utility savings. To encourage investment in infrastructure upgrades that lead to reduced energy consumption, the state established the Energy Service Performance Contracting program. Western has used this program on a small scale with very good results, and now plans the expanded utility improvements across campus.

“In order to advance sustainability goals, reduce our carbon footprint and to gain significant cost savings in the long term we are excited to start additional energy savings projects through the ESPC program,” said Richard Van Den Hul, Western’s vice president for Business and Financial Affairs.

Working with the state Department of General Administration, Western engaged Seattle-based McKinstry Consultants in October 2010 to conduct an energy audit of Western’s principle academic buildings and auxiliary buildings. The audit identified a number of potential projects with significant energy savings. Based on those results Western contracted with McKinstry to conduct a directed engineering study on those projects. That study included 38 separate facility improvement measures in 26 buildings with a cumulative projected cost of nearly $3.2 million.

Eight of the 38 measures will be completed by WWU Facilities Management’s in-house work force using Puget Sound Energy rebates while the other 30 will be completed by McKinstry through the ESPC program, which will be funded by the issue of $3.06 million in bonds. The utility savings will be used to make the bond payments. When combined with expected rebates the anticipated payback period is just over 12 years.

“The campus utility improvements – expected to start in March and be completed by June 2013 – are projected to reduce Western’s annual electrical, gas, water and sewer consumption by an aggregate 4.5 percent. Initially the annual utility costs are estimated to decrease by over $227,000, growing to $370,836 in annual savings by the end of the ESPC agreement in 2024,” said John Furman, director of Facilities Management.

The following campus buildings will be included in the project: Academic Instructional Center; Arts Annex; Administrative Services; Arntzen Hall; Biology; Bond Hall; Campus Services; Chemistry; Communications; College Hall; Ross Engineering Technology; Environmental Studies; Fine Arts; Fraser Hall; Haggard Hall; Humanities; Old Main; Parks Hall; Performing Arts; Physical Plant; Science Math and Technology Education; Wilson Library, Highland Hall, Fairhaven Academic, Fairhaven Residence Halls, Mathes Hall, and Buchanan Towers.