Parkside seeks to save through energy efficiency
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Monday, Feb. 6 edition of the Kenosha News. It was written by Melinda Tichelaar.
When Don Kolbe talks about saving energy, he talks big.
Kolbe is the director of facilities management at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, so he's in charge of heating, cooling, watering and lighting 1.3 million square feet for 5,300 students and hundreds of staff, to the tune of $3 million a year.
Kolbe is working with energy auditors from Honeywell to figure out how the campus can save 20 percent--or more--on energy costs through a combination of better systems, improved equipment and alternate energy sources such as geo-thermal, solar, wind and bio-mass.
Kolbe said the audit is not costing students or taxpayers a thing.
"It's supported by government, by the White House, and by Gov. (Scott) Walker, who is very supportive because we are using the energy savings to pay for the improvements," said Kent Anson, Honeywell Building Solutions vice president for higher education.
This is the third time Parkside has taken a big-picture approach to saving energy.
The first audit, done in the 1990s, led to the installation of motion detectors which turn lights off and on. Overall energy use has declined from 146,123 BTUs per gross square foot in 2005 to 134,033 BTUs in 2010.
But now, officials are digging even deeper--from the rooftops to the windows, floors and computers.
"When we look at water, we look at every piece of china, every fixture, every toilet bowl, every shower and every urinal," Honeywell account executive Koshy Samuel said.
Results will be presented to the campus in late spring or early summer, and Parkside officials will decide which of the recommendations to accept.
Then, Honeywell will lead contractors to implement the changes, with installation of new equipment and construction taking 12 to 15 months.
Behind the scenes
Proposed changes will most likely include removal of old-school thermometers and installation of new "direct digital control" systems that allow staff to change temperatures and lighting levels in the campus' 14 buildings remotely.
The new Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities already incorporates many of these changes, which go unnoticed by users.
Of course, students and staff care about how warm and cool their rooms are, so Kolbe said there will be a big effort to make sure people are on board.
"There are going to be a lot of opinions, and we are going to hold meetings," he said. "Not everyone will buy in, but if some do, we'll save a lot of money."
Honeywell may also end up recommending the school consider wind power, but that does not mean Parkside is going to sprout a wind farm. Samuel said inconspicuous 6-foot-wide turbines can be installed on rooftops to generate energy in just 2 mph winds.
Other changes may be as simple as taking out 32-watt bulbs and swapping them for 25-watt bulbs. If the new bulbs put out a whiter light, Kolbe said, people in the room don't notice the lowered wattage, but energy savings can be significant.
"It's only seven watts, but we're talking a lot of lamps," he said.
Changes at Parkside might also include better tracking of what's used and what isn't.
For example, the Heating and Cooling Power Plant uses 25 million gallons of water every year, and the school pays $3.82 per cubic feet in sewage fees to dispose of it. But approximately 7.5 million gallons is actually lost to evaporation.
New meters could precisely track the amount of water coming in and out, and allow the school to only pay to dispose of what is actually dumped in the sewer.
Power Plant supervisor Dale Lovejoy said that in his 18 years at the school, a number of things have done been in his department to save money.
New equipment is purchased on the basis of efficiency. Regular maintenance on boilers to remove soot helps keep efficiency high and costs low. And the power plant itself is spotless, which is something homeowners could learn from.
"If your place is a mess, you might not notice a puddle that indicates a problem," he said.