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New energy performance contract discussed in University Facilities conference call


Ohio University's new state-approved 15-year, $28.3 million energy performance contract (EPC) with Constellation New Energy, a leading retail supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services, was the top story to come out of a recent Facilities Conference Call hosted by Associate Vice President for Facilities Harry Wyatt and Executive Director of Facilities Management Mike Gebeke.

The guaranteed EPC, which is projected to save Ohio University more than $1.9 million annually and $38 million in water and energy costs during the life of the contract. The water and energy conservation measures are estimated to save 9 million gallons of water and eliminate 50,145 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year of the contract.

The construction upgrades to the buildings and campus will not require upfront capital from the University, which is paying for the project with the help of low interest bonds from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. Some of the scheduled improvements include: campus-wide interior lighting retrofits; air system and tower condition improvements; HVAC Direct Digital Controls expansion, upgrade and integration; kitchen fume hood improvements; variable-frequency drive installation on as many as 48 fan motors; pipe and blanket insulation; and retro-commissioning of various building equipment and water conservation measures.

The project also includes a sustainability education program and the hiring of an Ohio University project manager to facilitate the contract and the hiring of an energy manager for the first two years. The new construction period is projected to be completed in 20 months.
Gebeke said the interior lighting projects will likely start in early October as the first of the improvements.  

"Updating the aging facilities on campus will help us meet the energy usage goals of House Bill 251," Gebeke said. "By doing this project we should be able to meet those goals set in 2004. We have a lot of old equipment that will be fixed through this project."

Harry Wyatt also commented on this topic.

"The total dollar amount $28.3 million is guaranteed savings, but there is a margin in there that there will a greater degree of savings associated with that," Wyatt said. "The implementation of some of these measures involves the installation of equipment whose useful life is greater than the 15-year period. This is a way to make progress toward deferred maintenance, while at the same time controlling the energy use and minimalizing that."

Ohio University chose Constellation from a competitive bid process. The company will help the University implement energy efficiency and water conservation in 72 of its general fund, non-residential housing buildings on the Athens Campus. The project is included in the University's six-year capital improvement plan.

Alternative Energy

When asked about the future use of alternative energy sources at the University, Wyatt said the sources are very important with regards to academic study and his staff is exploring how the sources can supplement the University's main sources of energy, gas and coal. He said he doesn't think alternative energies (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass) can take over the University's need for energy.

Gebeke said solar power is used on campus to supplement the use of gas and coal. He said all of the alternative energies are being considered as supplemental sources of energy, but not main sources at this time. Wyatt told the media that all of the alternative energy sources are considered in the planning of new construction projects.

Wyatt said water and energy usage, construction materials (ex. paint or roofing materials can be reflective or absorbent), HVAC comfort, sighting of buildings in regards to solar possibilities, and lighting are some of the items Facilities Management consider when considering sustainability. He added that the University's new building requirements always meet the LEED Silver certification as a minimum.

Razing of Ridges Building 26

Wyatt said Building 26 in the Ridges is vacant and in disrepair and the decision was made to raze it this fall. He stressed that the building has repeatedly been vandalized and has become an attractive nuisance on campus because of frequent trespassers and vandals. He said there is also a safety and risk management concern because of these issues. Wyatt acknowledged that he has talked with a member of the Athens Historical Society about the historic value of the building and he intends on meeting further with members of the AHS. The building is not on the registry of historical places, but it is in an historical district. Gebeke added that the University has unsuccessfully spent thousands of dollars trying to deter trespassers. Wyatt added that a less distractive demolition method involving a claw crane will be used to raze the building in order to mitigate the noise and disruption in the immediate area.

Chilled Water Project in Baker Center path

Wyatt explained that the Baker Center path construction involves the addition of piping that will connect two regional chilled water plants and will add capacity and provide backup for many buildings
in case there are problems with any individual chiller. He said this improvement will aid many buildings, but specifically will benefit the Schoonover Center, McCracken, Glidden, Seigfred, and Clippinger halls and new construction on the South Green.

Wolfe Street Apartments Demolition

Wyatt shared the most likely order of uses for the site created by the razing of Wolfe Street Apartments. He said that in the near term, it could be used as an equipment staging area for the first
phase of new housing construction; in the midterm, it could be used for parking; and in the long term, it can be used as a partial building site or green space in support of a new teaching and research lab building.